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

Disney is fighting back at efforts by Florida lawmakers to repeal the special district that governs Walt Disney World, saying a provision in a state law could prohibit such a move. 

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

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

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In a public statement posted to the website of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21, Reedy Creek quoted a statute that says Florida "will not limit or alter the rights of the District...until all such bonds together with interest thereon...are fully met and discharged."

"In light of the State of Florida’s pledge to the District’s bondholders, 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," the statement continues. 

The message is the first since Disney became entangled in a public dispute with Gov. Ron DeSantis over its public opposition to the "Parental Rights in Education" law. 

DeSantis has pushed back against the company multiple times and pledged to oppose the "wokeness" he says the company is promoting. Last week he signed a measure into law dissolving Walt Disney World's governing power. 

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

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