The Republican-majority State Senate in Florida passed a bill on Wednesday to dissolve the special tax district status enjoyed by Walt Disney Co. DIS in the area around its Orlando theme parks.
What Happened: The Senate voted 23-16 on the measure advocated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called on the legislature to bring about the “termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement District functions as a county government and covers roughly 39 square miles that includes the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista plus the unincorporated land within its parameters. It was created in 1967 at the insistence of Walt Disney when was planning to create his Florida theme parks. Disney believed the company could operate more efficiently with full autonomy rather than be under the supervision of county governments.
The Republican-led House is expected to take up the measure today. DeSantis has pushed for the elimination of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in response to Disney’s opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that prohibits Florida schools from teaching about sexual identity and orientation to students in the kindergarten through third-grade levels.
What Happens Next: If the district is dissolved, its functions — as well as its operating expenses — will be shifted to Orange and Osceola counties. But David Ramba, executive director of the Florida Association of Special Districts, told the Wall Street Journal the end of the district may create more costs than benefits.
“You’ll notice you never see potholes when you drive up to Walt Disney World,” Ramba said. “That’s because Disney doesn’t have to wait for the county to come fix them. Reedy Creek is probably the most efficient local government in Florida, because it’s not a typical bureaucracy. It’s run like a business.”
Disney has yet to comment on the efforts to eliminate the district.
DIS Price Action: Disney's stock trades around 125.23 at press time, near its 52-week low.
Photo: David Jafra / Flickr Creative Commons
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