Florida Gov. DeSantis signs bill revoking Disney’s special district status

View of the Walt Disney statue in entrance of Cinderella Fortress contained in the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into legislation a invoice revoking the Walt Disney Firm’s particular district standing within the state, simply days after the laws was first launched on Tuesday.

The invoice, which might see the Reedy Creek Enchancment District dissolved, handed the state Senate on Wednesday with a vote of 23-16 and the state’s Home of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 70-38.

Disney has up up to now declined to touch upon the laws, however the dispute is prone to find yourself in courtroom.

For greater than 5 a long time, Disney has been in a position to make additions to its resort space, together with new theme parks, lodges and different tourism experiences, with out interference from native counties. That is set to alter in June 2023 now that DeSantis has signed the invoice into legislation.

Broadly seen as a contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, DeSantis is locked in a bitter and public feud with the leisure big over the corporate’s denouncement of Florida’s HB 1557 legislation final month. Whereas proponents of the invoice have denied that it’s a retaliatory act in opposition to Disney, critics see it as retribution for publicly quarreling with the governor.

Reedy Creek was created in 1967 by the Florida legislature so Disney may develop the infrastructure for Walt Disney World without charge to Florida taxpayers. Disney established and continues to keep up greater than 130 miles of roadways and 67 miles of waterways in addition to authorities companies similar to hearth safety, emergency companies, water, utilities and sewage.

Tax consultants and legislators say eliminating the district may have unintended penalties for county taxpayers. Disney’s particular tax district standing permits the corporate to levy an extra tax on itself to pay for municipal companies, one thing that different counties can’t do. That tax at the moment quantities to $105 million per 12 months, stated Orange County tax collector Scott Randolph. Reedy Creek additionally receives extra income of practically $60 million from Disney to pay its bond debt.

Sunsetting Reedy Creek implies that native counties will start paying for these companies with out that particular standing in place. Taxpayers will doubtless be left to foot the invoice for pot holes and emergency companies.

The counties would additionally take in Reedy Creek’s debt. The district traditionally operates at a lack of round $5 million to $10 million every year, in response to its monetary stories. However since Disney can subsidize its personal operations with theme park income, that debt would not have a lot affect on its backside line.

In keeping with lawmakers, there’s round $1 billion in debt on the steadiness sheet that taxpayers would grow to be chargeable for ought to the particular district get absorbed, resulting in increased taxes.

And salvaging these budgets will not be simple. State legislation prohibits counties from elevating gross sales taxes or affect charges to cowl prices, and so they should tax all areas of the county equally. So, no matter they enact will apply to everybody.

Randolph stated the county will doubtless have to boost property taxes by 20% to 25% to make up the distinction.

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