Ron DeSantis’ Plan to Kill Disney’s Special Tax Kingdom Stymied

The Reedy Creek Improvement District says first Florida must pony up a billion dollars in outstanding bond debt

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may have to rethink his bright idea to abolish the self-governing special tax district on which Disney World sits, now that the area’s representatives have pointed out that it could cost the state a cool billion if he goes ahead with his with sad scheme.

DeSantis and Disney Co. have been fighting it out over the 38-square-mile patch of ground outside Orlando—called the Reedy Creek Improvement District—ever since the Mouse House publicly condemned his “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits teachers from having classroom discussions about sexual identity with students in kindergarten through third grade.

Last week, DeSantis and his Republican cohorts in the state Senate passed a bill abolishing special tax districts, which will end the self-governance that Reedy Creek, and therefore Disney World, enjoyed—including its own fire and police departments, exemptions from many state and local rules regarding building codes and fees, plus handling its own zoning, utilities, and infrastructure.

Now, however, Reedy Creek, whose special status is set to expire in June, 2023, is arguing that Florida cannot legally disappear Disney’s special tax district unless the state coughs up an estimated $1 billion in outstanding bond debt, according to the New York Post.

In a letter to bondholders last week, RCID cited a 1967 law stating that Florida “will not in any way impair the rights or remedies of the holders… until such bonds together with interest therein and all costs and expenses in connection with any act or proceeding by or on behalf of such holders, are fully met and discharged.”

As far as Reedy Creek is concerned, that means it will keep functioning as-is.

“In light of the State of Florida’s pledge to the District’s bondholders,” the district continued, “Reedy Creek expects to explore its options while continuing its present operations, including levying and collecting its ad valorem taxes and collecting its utility revenues, paying debt service on its ad valorem tax bonds and utility revenue bonds, complying with its bond covenants and operating and maintaining its properties.”

In other words, they’ll see you court, Ron.

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