A new proposal by the Florida legislature would create a state board to run Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District but ensure Disney pays all its debts.
Osceola County posted this notice of legislation today:
Notice is hereby given of intent to seek legislation before the Florida Legislature, during a regular, extended, or special session, of an act relating to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange and Osceola Counties; amending, reenacting, and repealing Chapter 67-764, Laws of Florida, and decree in chancery no. 66-1061 (May 13, 1966); removing and revising powers of the District; increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency of the District; revising the selection process, membership qualifications, and compensation for the governing body of the District; ensuring debts and bond obligations held by the District remain with the District and are not transferred to other governments by retaining the District’s authority related to indebtedness and taxation; revising the District’s authority over local permitting and regulation; revising the District’s regulatory framework and structure; instituting reporting requirements, including a review of the District’s remaining powers; describing the District boundaries and name; revising exceptions to general law and certain special acts; removing duplicative provisions; making conforming changes; creating an exception to general law; providing an effective date.
Florida’s Voice shared more details. The new legislation will create a state-controlled board for the district. Disney would be required to pay off its debts, instead of these being passed on to taxpayers, something officials were afraid would happen if authority over the district went to local county governments.
“Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents,” Taryn Fenske, communications director for Governor Ron DeSantis, said.
Disney would also lose its special privileges to have tolling authority or build a nuclear power plant.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” Fenske also said. “Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes.”
Governor DeSantis aimed to get rid of Reedy Creek Improvement District after Disney publicly denounced Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The Florida Senate and House quickly passed a bill to this effect and DeSantis signed it into law on April 22, 2022.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was established by a 1967 act signed by Republican Governor Claude R. Kirk Jr. The act allowed Disney to get the money and resources they needed to build Walt Disney World without constantly going through local governments. Through the act, landowners within the district, including Walt Disney World, are solely responsible for paying the cost of providing municipal services. That is, local taxpayers do not have to pay for these services.
The district essentially acts as its own county government and encompasses the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, with fewer than 100 residents total. Residents of the two communities elect their city officials. The district is run by a five-member Board of Supervisors, elected by landowners (not residents).
Read more about the Reedy Creek Improvement District and what may happen with its dissolution.
The dissolution is scheduled for June 1, 2023.