ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Central Florida lawmakers said Monday that the financial impact on Orange and Osceola County property owners if Disney’s self-governing district is dissolved could be “dire.”
“This has just not been thought out and the consequences are so dire, we don’t want to see that happen,” Sen. Linda Stewart said in Monday’s news conference.
The governor signed off on a bill to end the Reedy Creek Improvement District after Disney criticized the Parental Rights in Education law.
Local and state leaders have been at odds over whether the move means a property tax increase for people in Orange and Osceola counties.
Stewart said the dissolution of the special district could cost Orange and Osceola County property owners $1,000 to more than $2,000 in additional property taxes.
Sen. Randolph Bracy and Sen. Victor Torrez joined Stewart Monday to pushback on the idea to dissolve the district, calling the decision “harebrained” and “reactionary.”
“Disney is not the one being punished by this bill, the thousands of workers are, the taxpayers of Orange and Osceola County are,” said Sen. Victor Torrez.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office released the following statement to Channel 9 on Tuesday the issue, stating in part:
The senators were speculating in their news conference yesterday. The specifics on the Reedy Creek plan have yet to be released. They will be soon. The local residents of Orange and Osceola counties will not have to bear the burden of Disney’s debt, as the governor has stated. And, there is no scenario where the state would inherit Disney’s debt - this is misinformation.”
The bill signed by DeSantis would dissolve the district as of June 2023, giving the state and local counties 13 months to figure out how to dismantle the districts that have been in place since the 1960s.
The senators said legal teams for both counties and Disney are looking at the issue from all angles to decide how any future legal challenges will proceed.
“We can not not speak up to have this happen because it comes down to our pocketbook,” Stewart said.
Lawmakers said Monday that the latest plan they’ve heard would involve DeSantis creating a new district under the general-purpose government that is controlled by the governor and people he appoints.
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