The Florida Gov. may have just been put in between a rock and a hard place.
The last few months have been an incredibly tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company. As soon as word got out that the company had actually backhandedly supported Florida’s controversial Parental Rights law, fans, employees, and leaders were stunned. This resulted in the company backtracking with CEO Bob Chapek even pledging millions of dollars toward the Human Rights Campaign.
This firm stance against the new bill caused friction between the company and the state of Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis continuing to escalate the battle with incendiary words and potential actions. In recent weeks, Gov. DeSantis heightened the stakes, publicly announcing he was considering terminating the special treatment Disney has been receiving due to the state’s Reedy Creek Improvement act.
This bill to dissolve the district has passed both Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives but recently, some concerned taxpayers have now possibly put a halt to this tense feud. As shared by The Hollywood Reporter, taxpayers are now suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his recent actions against Disney and its Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Taxpayers of counties surrounding Disney’s theme park area have joined the battle of Reedy Creek, claiming that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis violated their rights. They specifically state that their rights were infringed upon when he signed a law dissolving special tax districts.
This complaint was filed Tuesday in Florida federal court by residents who live near Disney World, arguing that they will be stuck with at least $1 billion in Disney’s bond debt if the state follows through with its plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
We previously covered this debt, noting that taxpayers may get left with the bill if DeSantis is successful in terminating the district.
Put simply, taxpayers are hoping to block this bill from gaining further traction. “It is without question that Defendant Governor DeSantis intended to punish Disney for a 1st Amendment protected ground of free speech,” reads the lawsuit. “Defendant’s violation of Disney’s 1st Amendment rights directly resulted in a violation of Plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment rights to due process of law.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially allows Walt Disney World to reside in Florida unregulated, acting as its own “government” in a way. The act involved creating a special taxing district that acts with the same authority as a county government. The legislation made the claim that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, could be allowed to be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services.
Residents of the surrounding Osceola counties say dissolving Reedy Creek will likely lead to increased taxes for the residents of Central Florida to pay off Disney’s bond debt, estimated to be between $1 billion and $2 billion. “Stripping Disney of this special district designation will move these major regulatory burdens unto the county, thereby increasing the Plaintiff’s taxes, and will cause significant injury to plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
The relationship between the state of Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort seems to be hanging in the balance. We recently reported how the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act could financially affect taxpayers. We will continue to update our story as more information comes out.
How do you feel about Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District?
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