Florida House Passes Bill That Would End Walt Disney World Reedy Creek District
The Reedy Creek Improvement District (or just Reedy Creek) is the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for the land of the Walt Disney World Resort, owned by the Walt Disney Company within the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties in Florida. The district was created in 1967 after the Florida Government passed the Reedy Creek Improvement Act because Orange and Osceola Counties did not have the services or resources needed to sustain Walt Disney World at the time.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been at odds (via CNN, BBC) with the Walt Disney Company for weeks since CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement criticising the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill brought forward by DeSantis. That bill prohibits any instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity between kindergarten and third grade - when students are roughly between five and nine years old. Opponents say the law will isolate and stigmatise LGBT youth, while supporters say it protects children from age-inappropriate content.
CEO Bob Chapek then announced that the company would stop making political donations in Florida. In what appears to be a retaliation, DeSantis passed a bill - which today passed the Florida House - to dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District which means Orange and Osceola counties would assume all assets and liabilities of the district.
The district has the authority to tax the land, and use the revenue to provide the public services and operate and maintain all the public roads, fund the police, fire departments, sewage, and much more. This arrangement means that residents who live in these counties are not having to pay taxes to fund the public services within the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Disney would no longer be able to (via WFTV) grant itself permission to do renovations, build new roads, etc. Instead, Disney would have to go through local governments for approval on all projects.
Reedy Creek historically operates at a loss of about $5-$10 million per year, per its financial reports. Disney eats this up as a cost of doing business. However, according to lawmakers, there is as much as $1 billion in debt on the balance sheets that for which taxpayers would become responsible for, possibly amounting to as much as thousands of dollars per household.
This law (via CNBC) doesn't take effect until June 2023. This gives local governments and Disney about 14 months to decide how to manage and pay for the huge property's public services, such as road maintenance and sewage treatment, should this come to fruition next June.
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