Florida Residents Sue Ron DeSantis Over Repeal Of Walt Disney World’s Special Tax District

A group of Florida residents has sued the state’s governor and other officials over the repeal of a special tax district that has allowed Walt Disney World to self-govern its operations since it was created 55 years ago.

DeSantis signed a law repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement District after Disney announced its opposition to the state’s new parental rights law, also known as the “don’t say gay’ bill by its opponents.

In the lawsuit, the residents — Michael Foronda, Edward Foronda and Vivian Gorsky — contend that the repeal of the district violates their federal constitutional rights as taxpayers as well as state rights. They cite reports that repealing the district will leave taxpayers responsible for the district’s debt, estimated by some experts as much as $1 billion. But they also contend that taxpayers will be left with footing the bill for regulatory burdens in overseeing the district, as well as services like a fire department.

“The stated and undisputed reason behind the bill is to punish Walt Disney World and subsequently Florida taxpayers,” the plaintiffs said in the suit. “Governor DeSantis has been clear on his intended punishment of Disney, although he claims the elimination of Disney’s central district will not affect central taxpayers.”

The plaintiffs are property owners in the surrounding counties, according to the lawsuit. It asks a judge to set aside the repeal and to issue injunctive relief to prevent enforcement.

Disney has not commented on DeSantis’ move to repeal the district, which would not take effect until next year. But Reedy Creek issued a statement to investors last month that suggested a challenge, noting a provision in the 1967 creation of the district that suggests it can’t be dissolved until bonds are paid off.

 

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