Gov. DeSantis Expected To Establish New District To Replace Disney’s Reedy Creek

in Walt Disney World

Reedy Creek Fire Dept.

Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

Considered to be retaliation for Disney’s negative stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in the Florida legislature, the state of Florida recently passed a bill dissolving Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Now, three Florida state senators say they expect Governor DeSantis to establish a new district, run by his own appointees.

From Natasha Chen and Leyla Santiago of CNN:

“The governor will establish a new district. That’s our latest word under the general-purpose government controlled by the governor, with appointments by the governor,” Florida State Sen. Linda Stewart (D) who represents parts of Orange County, said.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District was initially established in 1967 as a part of The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, allowing Walt Disney World to install and run its own government services surrounding their theme parks in Orlando. This prevented local taxpayers from paying for municipal services such as fire protection, water, roads, electrical power, and more.

Reedy Creek Fire Department
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department Website

When the new law takes effect in 2023, taxpayers will not only take on those costs but potentially also the debt The Reedy Creek Improvement District has accrued over the years. According to Natasha Chen’s reporting, they have over $1 billion in debt:

According to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the district has $1 billion in debt, and it is unclear what happens to those liabilities if the district is dissolved.

If Governor Desantis does establish his own special district, Florida State Senator Linda Stewart says the debt will be paid by the largest property tax increase ever in Osceola and Orange Counties.

Related: President Biden Slams Gov. DeSantis Over Assault on Disney, “It’s Mean, It’s Ugly”

reedy creek disney honor guard
Credit: Reedy Creek Honor Guard via Facebook

From Natasha Chen:

“Therefore, the debt will be paid, if this were the case, by the state of Florida for over a billion dollars. Turning it over to Orange County and Osceola County would create the largest property tax increase in our history. We don’t want that to happen.”

Florida State Senator Victor M. Torres Jr. also expressed concern about the effects of the bill on first responders, private contractors, and other employees of Reedy Creek Improvement District.

From Natasha Chen:

“The bottom line is this will affect 400 first responders in Reedy Creek, another 400 who run the sewage and electrical plants, another 2,000 private contractors in Reedy Creek as well,” Florida State Sen. Victor M. Torres Jr. said.

While Republicans in Florida believe 2023 is a feasible deadline for replacing the district, these democratic state senators are questioning whether the law dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District is feasible and have legal teams looking into the aspects of the transition.

Reedy Creek
Credit: Reedy Creek

From Natasha Chen:

These state senators questioned if the new law that dissolves RCID is legally feasible and said legal teams are looking into every aspect of it… The new law takes effect June 1, 2023. Florida Republicans believe that gives the state enough time to hash out all the details needed to dissolve the district.

Disney themselves argued back in April that the bill is illegal, going against the terms of the original agreement made between the state of Florida and the Walt Disney Company.

It remains uncertain what Governor DeSantis’ own special district would look like, who it would be run by, and the exact impact it would have on taxpayers in Osceola and Orange counties.

Reedy Creek Fire Department
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

What impact do you think this law will have on the local community? 

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