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DeSantis signs bill ending Disney’s self-governing status

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Disney’s self-governing status under the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) came to an end when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 9-B into law.
The RCID was created in 1967 under HB 486, the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The Act established the area surrounding the Walt Disney World Resort within the RCID in Osceola and Orange counties as its own governmental authority, which has the same authority and responsibilities, including taxing authority, as a county government.

Last year, DeSantis backed HB 9-B, which amended the RCID to strip Disney of its self-governing status under the Act. That legislation was later passed during the special legislative session.

According to DeSantis, RCID allowed Disney to have benefits without paying its fair share of taxes. In addition, Disney accumulated a total of $700 million in municipal debt.

“Since the 1960s, they’ve (Disney) enjoyed privileges unlike any company or individual in the state of Florida has ever enjoyed,” DeSantis said before signing the legislation during a press event in Lake Buena Vista on Feb. 27. “I placed the area in state receivership, and appointed five members to a state-control board – Disney will live under the same laws as everyone else and pay its debts and fair share of taxes.”

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Specifically, HB 9-B ends Disney’s exemptions from the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code and from state regulatory reviews and approvals. It also ensures that Disney’s municipal debt will be paid by Disney Corp. and not Florida taxpayers.
The measure does provide legislative intent on the district’s authority to levy property taxes and fees, issue bonds, and provide services such as water and sewer systems, roads, and parking facilities.

The legislation also changes the name of the special district to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and authorizes DeSantis to appoint a five-member Board of Supervisors for it.

HB 9-B goes into effect on July 1.

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