A bill to give the state of Florida control of Disney’s Reedy Creek special district is in the works, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday, but he gave few new details about how it would work.
DeSantis did not confirm when the bill would be introduced or voted on. A spokesman for the governor’s office on Tuesday night said DeSantis was expecting a special session next week on Reedy Creek and other items.
“We’re not going to have a corporation controlling its own government,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Tallahassee. “That’s going to be reverted to the state. I’d rather it be the local [governments], but I don’t think that they’re prepared for it. So the state is going to have a board to run it.”
DeSantis repeated his standard talking points on the district, saying the state would “make sure that there are no special legal privileges and that they’re abiding by the same laws. That will be in the bill. And then making sure they’re paying their fair share of taxes and paying the debt.”
He again insisted the state takeover would not raise any local taxes in Orange and Osceola counties.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said last year that stripping Reedy Creek of its self-governing status would be “catastrophic” for the county’s taxpayers, who would shoulder the burden of providing public safety and other services for the properties.
Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph said the county would take on $163 million per year in debt obligations.
Currently, Disney pays all of the bills for its law enforcement, Reedy Creek Fire Services, and its 911 call center.
A notice published on Osceola County’s website early last month stated that lawmakers would take up legislation “increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency” of the district, which has been run by the Walt Disney Co. since its creation in 1967.
The Legislature and DeSantis passed a law last year to dissolve Reedy Creek on June 1 of this year amid Disney’s dispute with the governor over what critics call the “don’t say gay” bill.