State Watch

Disney says Florida can’t dissolve special district without paying $1B debt

Disney is arguing that Florida cannot dissolve the special taxing district that allows Walt Disney World to oversee its property as a quasi-governmental agency since it said it would protect bond holders.

The special taxing district run by Disney, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, made the argument in a statement to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21.

It said in the statement that the Reedy Creek Act pledged not to alter its status unless all debts are paid off.

The pledge promises that it “will not in any way impair the rights or remedies of the holders, and that it will not modify in any way the exemption from taxation provided in the Reedy Creek Act, until all such bonds together with interest thereon, and all costs and expenses in connection with any act or proceeding by or on behalf of such holders, are fully met and discharged.”

In the statement, the district said they will continue to “explore its options while continuing its present operations” in light of the pledge in the act. 

The bill dissolving RCID does not explicitly say what should happen to its debts, but another state statute outlines that the county – Orange and Osceola counties – would assume the district’s debt along with the rest of its assets.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been battling with Disney after it announced its opposition to the so-called Don’t Say Gay law. The Republican has vowed to strip Disney of its self-government power, and the state legislature has approved a DeSantis-backed bill to do exactly that.

DeSantis has insisted that taxpayers will not get stuck paying the $1 billion in bond debt that would come with the dissolving of the special district.

Under the law creating the special district, Disney pays for all the district’s municipal services and can build and provide these services without asking permission of the county government.

Tags Disney World Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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