Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested Monday that the state will take control of Disney World's self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District rather than local governments when the district is dissolved next year.
DeSantis assured Florida taxpayers that the state would require those within the special taxing district where Walt Disney World Resort resides to pay off the approximately $766 million in bond debt accumulated.
DISNEY CLAIMS FLORIDA CAN'T REVOKE SELF-GOVERNANCE WITHOUT PAYING OFF DEBTS
"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, locally, control," DeSantis said at a press conference Monday. "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."
The Republican governor signaled that he will be working with lawmakers after the November elections on a proposal to clarify how the district will be dismantled, addressing concerns that the debt might fall in the hands of surrounding local governments, which could in turn raise taxes to cover the costs.
Last month, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that if the local government were to take over public safety components of Reedy Creek, then it would be "catastrophic" to its budget.
"I'd much rather have the state leading that effort than potentially having local governments," DeSantis said. "First of all, it'd be a cash cow for them if they had Disney, but I'm worried that they would use that as a pretext to raise taxes on people when that's what they would want to do anyways and then try to blame Reedy Creek, so we're not going to give them that opportunity."
The GOP-led Florida Legislature passed a bill, which DeSantis signed in April, dissolving Disney's ability to oversee its own zoning, infrastructure, and policing by June 2023.
"That debt will not end up going to any of these local governments," DeSantis said. "It's not going to go to the state government either. It's going to absolutely be dealt with with the taxpayers who are currently in that district."
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The recent dispute between Disney and DeSantis arose after the media conglomerate's executives denounced the governor's Parental Rights in Education bill, which opponents have labeled the "Don't Say Gay" bill.