Disney Pushes for $2 billion bond from Florida after revocation of special status

by Trinity Cardinal

Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News 


The Walt Disney Co. is pushing back against Florida’s decision to revoke their self-governing status, claiming that the state owes billions of dollars in bonds due to improvements and infrastructure in the area where Disney has its Florida headquarters. 

A recent report by WPTV outlined Disney’s claim that the revenues from their self-taxation has paid for municipal infrastructure expenses like roads, waste services, fire safety, and water at Disney World and therefore Reedy Creek issues bonds and levies and taxes on the area. 

In a document acquired by WESH 2 in Orlando, Reedy Creek officials assert to investors that Florida is obligated to fulfill the terms of any agreement made with bondholders:

“Pursuant to the requirements and limitations of Florida’s Uniform Special District Accountability Act, which provides, among other things, that unless otherwise provided by law, the dissolution of a special district government shall transfer title to all of its property to the local general-purpose government, which shall also assume all indebtedness of the preexisting special district,” the document reads. 

“In light of the State of Florida’s pledge to the District’s bondholders, Reedy Creek expects to explore its options while continuing its present operations, including levying and collecting its ad valorem taxes and utility revenues, paying debt service on its ad valorem tax bonds and utility revenue bonds, complying with its bond covenants and operating and maintaining its properties.”

The dispute between Disney and Florida came after the company spoke out about its disagreement with the Florida parental rights act which includes a mandate that children in 3rd grade and below are not to be introduced to the school or teacher’s ideas on sexuality and gender issues. 

The seemingly common-sense legislation caused a firestorm of frustration from the left who branded it the “Don’t Say Gay” law, leading Disney, and other companies, to take sides.

CNBC reported that because the special services are dissolved in Orange and Osceola counties, those local governments have to provide local services, according to Scott Randolph, the tax collector for Orange County.

“If the special district is dissolved, Orange and Osceola counties would have to provide the local services currently provided by Reedy Creek. And, the $105 million in revenue would disappear, meaning county and local taxpayers would be on the hook for part or all of the added costs,” CNBC reported in their assessment of the tax hit Florida might take over the redesignation. 

“If you dissolved Reedy Creek, that $105 million in revenue literally goes away, it doesn’t get transferred,” Randolph said of the taxes that were paid in annual general revenue. 

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment of the potential damage. Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay who championed the parental rights bill told CNBC Thursday that taxpayers would not pay more and could actually benefit from the change as the tax revenue would be transferred to the local government: 

“Those taxes will continue to be paid,” he said. “They will just be paid to Orange and Osceola county instead of this special improvement district. The taxpayers could end up saving money because you’ve got duplicative services that are being provided by this special district that is already being done by those municipalities.”