Disney says Florida can’t dissolve special tax district until debt is fully paid

Disney hits back at Florida lawmakers’ efforts to repeal the special district that governs Walt Disney World, saying a provision of state law could prohibit such a decision.

The special statute, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed in 1967 in response to the entertainment giant’s lobbying efforts. At the time, Disney was proposing to build a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in a remote area of ​​Orange and Osceola counties in Central Florida, which consisted of 38.5 square miles of pasture and largely uninhabited swamps.

Orange and Osceola County did not have the services or resources to bring the project to life. The state legislature therefore worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special tax district that allows the company to act with the same authority and responsibility. as county government.

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The newly painted Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is seen with the crest to celebrate the theme park’s 50th anniversary Monday, August 30, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Disney is fighting a repeal move (AP Photo/John Raoux, File/AP Newsroom)

In a public statement posted on the Municipal Securities Regulatory Board’s website on April 21, Reedy Creek cited a law that states Florida “will not limit or alter the rights of the district…until all such obligations together with the interest thereon … are fully discharged and discharged.”

“In light of the State of Florida’s commitment to bondholders in the District, Reedy Creek plans to explore its options while continuing its current operations, including collecting and collecting its ad valorem taxes and collecting of its utility revenues, paying debt service on its ad valorem tax obligations and utility revenue obligations, complying with its debt covenants and operating and maintaining its properties,” the statement continued.

The message is the first since Disney became embroiled in a public dispute with Governor Ron DeSantis over his public opposition to the “parental rights in education” law.

DeSantis has repeatedly pushed back against the company and pledged to oppose the “wake-up call” he says the company is promoting. Last week, he signed a measure into law dissolving Walt Disney World’s power of government.

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FOX Business has reached out to Disney’s office and DeSantis for comment.

Fox Business’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.