And Reedy Creek Development is the Target which DeSantis has attacked with his bill. And as Reedy Creek Development is an entity whose sole purpose is to enable and support the WDW resort it is disingenuous to say that Disney does not own them. If Reedy Creek will not own the roads, power, water, and maintenance faclities then Disney will not own them and the surrounding counties will assume all the associated costs.
This ia has been mentioned by Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Times, and the Washington Post. If Fox is telling you otherwise well that is fake news.
It’s not disingenuous to say Disney does not own them. They don’t. Reedy Creek Improvement District is an independent special district created by a special act of the Florida Legislature, whose board of directors is elected by the landowners of the property lying within the boundaries of the district. This is not coming from Fox, but from reading the statute - and having worked with similar independent special districts over the last fifteen years. These districts often end up being the alter ego of a landowner when only one entity owns all the land within a district - but the district is a legally separate entity. You can read the text of the act here, and the wikipedia entry on it is surprisingly accurate:
The district owns the public facilities that service the WDW resort - the roads, water and sewer systems, fire department, and several other elements of infrastructure. Disney does not legally own them. It is utterly common for property owners to be taxed for the construction and maintenance of facilities they do not own, and this is no exception. Indeed, that’s the whole point of special districts in most cases - they create a public taxing mechanism to fund services that are used for a discrete area within a larger city or county. Here in Miami-Dade County, nearly every new residential subdivision that gets platted also comes with separate special assessment district that covers the installation and costs of street lighting and drainage systems.
Under the existing bill that was passed, ownership of the infrastructure and assumption of the outstanding debt would pass to Orange County. I am merely pointing out that there is a relatively easy ‘glitch bill’ fix to prevent the County taxpayers from getting stuck with the bill. Keep a ‘rump’ version of the RCID in place with no power or authority except to pay off the outstanding bonds, and transfer control of that district to the County Commission. Problem solved - the taxpayers are off the hook, the bondholders are protected, and Disney still has to pay the costs of the public infrastructure servicing their development.
What all those news sources are talking about is what would happen if the Legislature did nothing during the next session. I think that’s exceptionally unlikely, and that the Legislature will certainly (at a minimum) tweak what they just passed so that Disney doesn’t walk away with a billion dollar windfall.