Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wants Legislation to Put the State in Control of Reedy Creek Improvement District

The Orlando Sentinel has provided an update on the status of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that he wants Florida lawmakers to put the state in control of Reedy Creek.

What’s Happening:

  • A notice published on Osceola County’s website on Friday states that lawmakers will take up legislation “increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency” of the district.
  • A bill has yet to be filed in the Legislature.
  • “The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” said Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokeswoman. “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.”
  • Reedy Creek is overseen by a five-member Board of Supervisors. As the primary landowner, Disney gets to select who sits on the board, allowing it to self-govern its Central Florida resort properties.
  • This follows a report last month that stated Government Officials were discussing plans to reverse the earlier decision to shut down the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
  • In April 2022, the Florida legislature voted to dissolve Disney’s 55-year-old special tax district following a public feud between Gov. Ron DeSantis and then-chief executive Bob Chapek over a new state law restricting discussion of LGBTQ issues in classrooms. Chapek was removed from his position in November 2022, with former CEO Bob Iger returning.
  • DeSantis then said he wanted to put state appointees on the board while ensuring that Disney would continue to pay the taxes needed to maintain services for its theme park and resort properties.
  • Tax officials and lawmakers have warned that dissolving Disney’s private government threatens to shift an enormous financial burden to taxpayers and potentially transfer a $1 billion debt load to the state, but this new plan from DeSantis could shift that debt to Disney.

About the Reedy Creek Improvement District:

  • The Reedy Creek Improvement District allows Disney to tax itself to cover the costs of providing water, power, roads and fire services in the area. The district covers one of the busiest places in America, and the District’s boundaries include: 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 1 sports complex, 175 lane miles of roadway, 67 miles of waterway, the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, an environmental science laboratory where the continuity of water quality is monitored, an electric power-generating & distribution facility, a natural gas distribution system, water and wastewater collection & treatment facilities, a solid waste and recyclables collection & transfer system, plus over 40,000 hotel rooms and 100’s of restaurants and retail stores. All of which would fall into the jurisdiction and responsibility of nearby Orange and Osceola county and its taxpayers should it be dissolved.