Disney's Reedy Creek Board of Supervisors say they haven't heard from state about changes
FLORIDA - A bill focusing on the Reedy Creek Improvement District passed a House Committee today. FOX 35 asked what Reedy Creek's Board of Supervisors thought.
The Board of Supervisors for Reedy Creek gathered for their monthly meeting. The bill came up briefly, during a presentation about their budget and transparency. But the Board members say they haven't been in contact with the State about changes.
Governor Ron DeSantis says, "Disney needs to live under the same laws as everybody else." Governor DeSantis talks about Disney having too much power, through its self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District, and now he wants to take it away.
We asked Reedy Creek’s Board of Supervisors what they thought during their monthly meeting. Don Greer says, "I don’t have any thoughts. We know there’s going to be some kind of change I guess." Board President Larry Hames told us, "Just here to do our business the way we’ve been asked to do it." But that business is about to change as State Lawmakers debate over what will happen when it becomes the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Governor DeSantis says, "There were a lot of things that were stripped in terms of special provisions."
That includes not being able to build an airport and nuclear power plant. Bill sponsor Rep Fred Hawkins says, currently Reedy Creek can have whatever land they want. "They can exercise eminent domain outside the special district and just grab land. In reality, if they wanted to have land from Orlando to Ocala they could have had the power to do that." And even media is restricted. While we were allowed to be at the Reedy Creek Government building today and in front of the sidewalk, we’re not usually allowed to be in other public areas of the district, or we’re told by security to leave the property. We asked, "How is it that they can just do that? (We're allowed on public sidewalks around the country.) Rep Hawkins replied, "As I say, they’ve had self-governing for 50 years. And that’s coming to an end."
The Governor wants to get rid of this board and create a new one with 5 people, who haven’t been involved with any theme park for the last 3 years. Greer has been there for almost 50 years. We asked him what he thought of the changes."I don’t know. I don’t have any contact with the Governor, the State, the company, or anybody. I just do what we’re positioned to do."
Rep Anna Eskamani tweeted she’d like to see 7 members on the board including the Mayor of Orange County, Orlando, Kissimmee, and the Chairman of Osceola County’s Board of Commissioners, and she wants to change Reedy Creek’s name to "Florida’s attempt to silence critical and independent speech and thought."
With many taxpayers concerned about getting stuck with more taxes, and other theme parks talking about Disney's unfair advantage, the Governor says. : Actually gives the state the ability to tax Disney for a lot of the benefits." Rep Hawkins says no taxpayers here in Central Florida would be responsible for paying off more than $1 billion in Disney's bond debt. The final vote is expected at the end of the week