Chicago Tribune Covers Governor DeSantis Stripping Disney World of Reedy Creek Infrastructure Control

When Walt Disney proposed his Florida project - the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) in the 1960s - he envisioned a futuristic planned city with both commercial and residential areas.

In order to have almost complete autonomy within EPCOT’s borders, and to continue to showcase and test new ideas and concepts for urban living, the Disney company petitioned the Florida State Legislature to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

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This resulted in residents of the Orange and Osceola counties not needing to pay any taxes unless they were residents of the district. Services like land use regulation and planning, building codes, utilities, roads, fire protection, emergency medical services, environmental services and more were overseen by the district itself, run by Disney. The only areas where Reedy Creek had to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections. Otherwise, Disney handled its own permit services, inspections, zoning – everything!

In a recent article, the Chicago Tribune reports that on Monday, February 23rd, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that gives the state control back of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, stripping the resort of its self-governing powers. The law also renames Reedy Creek as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and gives the governor the power to appoint all five members of the governing board of the district. According to Chicago Tribune,

“That law gave Disney unique control over development and other services within its boundaries, something usually reserved for cities and counties. DeSantis said the arrangement gave Disney an unfair advantage.”

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The article goes on to discuss the support DeSantis has found with Reedy Creek’s fire department.

“John Shirey, president of Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters, praised the state takeover and criticized the previous board for its handling of public safety issues, which he said led to personnel and ambulances shortages.

The union of about 200 firefighters, paramedics and emergency workers has clashed with the district’s administration in contract negotiations and endorsed DeSantis’ reelection effort.

‘For many years, there has been a blatant disregard and bias against the first responders here,’ Shirey said. ‘The lack of concern for public safety has been very apparent by the Reedy Creek administration and this current Board of Supervisors. This bias has created major public safety shortcomings.’”

Given the importance of permit services when it comes to public safety, this change from DeSantis has led many to hope for a boost in compensation for emergency personnel.

Please read the full article from Chicago Tribune here.


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