During a meeting on Wednesday, September 27, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) Board of Supervisors will discuss and likely approve their new employee and retiree benefits stipend policy, which will officially replace the Walt Disney World Annual Pass program and other benefits.
Employees and retirees of the CFTOD have historically received Walt Disney World Annual Passes, as well as passes for family and friends and sometimes other Disney benefits. After receiving a bill from Walt Disney World, the District released a press release in August calling the benefits a “scheme” and “handouts,” vowing to remove them. Later that day, a leaked email from District Administrator Glen Gilzean Jr. revealed the District had already ended the benefits with no warning. At the next CFTOD Board meeting, District firefighters spoke out against the decision, calling it a “low blow” against them.
Martin Garcia, Chairman of the Board, said canceling the program came down to three points: the policy only benefited Walt Disney World, it was inequitable to employees because larger families got more benefits, and the policy may endorse something “illegal,” that is a private company giving gifts to public employees.
Under the replacement policy the Board originally announced, District employees would receive a one-time annual stipend of $1,000, although Chairman Martin Garcia said they would evaluate a higher amount. The policy as outlined in the September 27 meeting minutes does not list a stipend amount. Some sources indicate it would be increased to $3,000.
The new policy would also expire in two years, on October 1, 2025. We’ve included the full policy below. Note that “annual admission pass” is included in the title despite an Annual Pass not being included in the program.
EMPLOYEE & RETIREE BENEFITS STIPEND (ANNUAL ADMISSION PASS) PROGAM [sic]
Pursuant to a previous agreement with Walt Disney World, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District provided an annual Walt Disney World Admission Pass to eligible employees and retirees. The annual admission pass was a privilege and not a vested right of employees or retirees. The pass program was reviewed periodically and was subject to revision or cancellation in whole or in part at the discretion of the District. Based on the sunsetting of the admission pass program referenced in the Benefits section of the 2011 Employee Policy Manual, the District will instead offer an annual stipend based on the following policy terms.
The annual stipend is a privilege and not a vested right of employees or retirees. It is reviewed periodically and is subject to revision or cancellation in whole or in part at the discretion of the District. Stipends in no way guarantee admission to parks or events and do not include or provide access to any theme park, restaurant, destination, hotel, or merchandise discount. The annual stipend in no way obligate recipients of the stipend to purchase Walt Disney World Admission Passes or any other products or services. Recipients of the stipend may use the stipend for any legal purpose they choose in their discretion.
This policy applies to employees of the District unless the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which has provisions that specifically address these matters and differs from this policy. Nothing in this policy is intended to, nor shall it limit any inherent management rights of the District in any CBA. In the event that a specific provision of a CBA is inconsistent with this policy, the provision contained in the CBA shall prevail for covered bargaining unit employees. Otherwise, this policy shall apply according to its terms and conditions to all employees of the District, unless and until superseded by action of the District to modify, replace and/or cancel the policy/program/plan, or, unless expressly contradicted by a specific provision of a CBA, or, unless superseded by law. The amount of the annual stipend is subject to annual budgeting and appropriations by the District Board of Supervisors.
The Employee & Retiree Benefits Stipend policy sunsets at the completion of two fiscal years beginning October 1, 2023, unless re‐adopted prior to its expiration by the Board of Supervisors. The sunsetting of stipends does not reinstate the Annual Admission Pass policy.
- POLICY DETAIL
3.1 District Administration will be responsible for the administration of this policy.
3.2 Employee Eligibility and Distribution
3.2.1 All full‐time hourly employees will receive an annual stipend ninety (90) days from the date of hire upon successful completion of the new hire probationary period.
3.2.2 Full‐time salaried and salaried non‐exempt employees are eligible for an annual stipend ninety (90) days from the date of hire upon successful completion of the new hire probationary period.
3.2.3 Stipends will be issued on an annual basis, per the District’s fiscal year, to eligible employees subject to annual budgeting and appropriations by the District Board of Supervisors.
3.2.4 Stipends are subject to applicable tax withholding requirements.
3.2.5 The District at its sole discretion may utilize the services of third party vendors or agents to distribute, pay, and/or offer stipends for the use of procuring admission passes to theme parks or other perks offered at a later time.
3.9 Retiree Eligibility and Distribution
3.9.1 Employees who retire at or after age 55 with at least twenty (20) years of continuous service with the District, or at any age with at least thirty (30) years of continuous service with the District, will receive the stipend held immediately prior to the time of retirement at the time of retirement.
3.9.2 Employees who retire prior to age 55, with at least twenty (20) years of continuous service with the District (but less than thirty years), will receive the stipend held immediately prior to the time of retirement upon attaining the age of 55.
3.9.3 Employees who retire because of a permanent disability, who are age 45 or older with 10 or more years of continuous service, will receive the stipend held immediately prior to the time of retirement at the time of retirement.
3.9.4 The spouse of a deceased retiree with at least twenty (20) years of service will continue to be eligible for the annual stipend held by the retiree prior to his or her death until the remarriage or death of the surviving spouse.
3.9.5 The spouse of a deceased employee will continue to be eligible for the annual stipend held by the employee prior to his or her death until the end of the calendar year of the employee’s death. The stipend will not be renewed the following year.
3.9.6 Retiree stipends will be paid in January in conjunction with the benefit plan year.
3.9.7 Stipends are subject to applicable tax withholding requirements.
3.9.8 The District at its sole discretion may utilize the services of third party vendors or agents to distribute, pay, and/or offer stipends for the use of procuring admission passes to theme parks or other perks offered at a later time.
The CFTOD Board meeting will take place on September 27 at 5:05 p.m. at the RCID Administration building in the first-floor board room.