Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted Monday the state might take over Disney World's self-governing Reedy Creek district instead of ceding control of the area to other local governments.
"Even though there are ways you could potentially have local communities absorb jurisdiction over Disney, after seeing them threatening to raise taxes on their citizens, we are not going to be in a situation where we're just gonna be giving them local control — more likely that the state will simply assume control and make sure that we're able to impose the law and make sure we're collecting the taxes," DeSantis said of the proposal, which could reportedly garner consideration after the November midterm elections.
DeSantis also said Reedy Creek's reported debt of $766 million "will not end up going to any of these local governments." Instead, "it's gonna absolutely be dealt with (from) the taxpayers who are currently in that district."
The governor added: "Obviously, with Reedy Creek, the path forward is Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida. Disney will have to follow the same law that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida. They will pay their fair share of taxes and they will be responsible for paying the debts."
Last month, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to dissolve Walt Disney World's private government. The measure allows for the districts to be re-established, potentially leaving things open for a future renegotiation.
The move could have seismic tax implications for Disney, whose theme parks have helped transform Orlando into one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
Through the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), two municipal-like governments were regulated by a single entity: the Lake Buena Vista land and the Walt Disney World Resort.
As such, the RCID was empowered to oversee its own fire protection, security services, utilities, and city planning, Florida Politics reported.
Also, the RCID board of supervisors are selected by landowners, meaning Disney had inroads to choosing its own government for regulating the 38.5-square-mile property in central Florida.
One of Florida's biggest private employers (60,000 state workers, as of last year), RCID originally gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida during the 1960s.
Later on, Disney officials insisted they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park.
The construction of a magical city never materialized, though. Instead, that project eventually became the EPCOT theme park.
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