- April 23, 2022
Eight months after the Florida Legislature voted to eliminate the special district that gave Disney the power to self-govern, the plan to replace the Reedy Creek Improvement District was unveiled Friday, Jan. 6.
According to a notice published on the Osceola County government website, the Legislature intends to seek legislation that would replace the district with a state-run board.
The notice reads: "Reedy Creek Improvement District Notice is hereby given of intent to seek legislation before the Florida Legislature, during a regular, extended, or special session, of an act relating to the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange and Osceola Counties; amending, reenacting, and repealing Chapter 67-764, Laws of Florida, and decree in chancery no. 66-1061 (May 13, 1966); removing and revising powers of the District; increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency of the District; revising the selection process, membership qualifications, and compensation for the governing body of the District; ensuring debts and bond obligations held by the District remain with the District and are not transferred to other governments by retaining the District’s authority related to indebtedness and taxation; revising the District’s authority over local permitting and regulation; revising the District’s regulatory framework and structure; instituting reporting requirements, including a review of the District’s remaining powers; describing the District boundaries and name; revising exceptions to general law and certain special acts; removing duplicative provisions; making conforming changes; creating an exception to general law; providing an effective date."
The proposed legislation would give Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the ability to appoint the board to control the Reedy Creek district.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end," DeSantis' Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement published on Twitter. "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."
Moreover, Fenske said the move would ensure Orange County residents would not face financial consequences, an outcome DeSantis promised last year.
"Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents," Fenske said.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, created by a special act of the Florida Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Claude Kirk Jr., gave Disney power to oversee decisions related to land-use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services.
The district includes about 25,000 acres in both Orange and Osceola counties, and serviced 19 landowners, including Walt Disney Company. A five-member Board of Supervisors, elected by landowners, governed the district.