What is a special district in Florida? Here’s an explanation

Reedy Creek Improvement District governs land occupied by Walt Disney World

Roy Disney shaking hands with Governor Claude Kirk during the signing of the Disney bill at the Governor's mansion - Tallahassee, Florida. (Public Domain)

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday the state legislature would be taking up a bill during their special session that would look to dissolve six special districts in the state, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District which governs Walt Disney World.

The bill being considered is H.B. 3C, which was filed in the house by State Rep. Randy Fine of Brevard County.

“Disney is a guest in the State of Florida and today we remind them of that,” Fine said.

According to the wording of the bill, it will dissolve “any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968 and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968.”

Florida defines a special district as “a unit of local government created for a special purpose, as opposed to a general-purpose, which has jurisdiction to operate within a limited geographic boundary and is created by general law, special act, local ordinance, or by rule of the Governor and Cabinet.”

Florida has 1,844 special districts statewide, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Some notable special districts in Central Florida include:

Reedy Creek Improvement District is among the most well-known of these special districts.

According to the state, is was created in 1967 by “a special Act of the Florida Legislature, the purpose of which is to support and administer certain aspects of the economic development and tourism within District boundaries.”

Reedy Creek encompasses 25,000 acres of land in Orange and Osceola counties “servicing 19 landowners, including Walt Disney Co. and its wholly-owned affiliates,” according to its website.

You can see the boundaries of Reedy Creek Improvement District in the map below:

RCID2020 by Thomas Mates on Scribd

Reedy Creek is responsible for overseeing the land and providing essential services; such as fire protection, wastewater systems, solid waste and recyclable collections, among other services.

If Reedy Creek were to dissolve, those responsibilities would fall to Orange and Osceola counties.

The bill which would dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District is set to be debated in committee on Tuesday afternoon. If it makes it out of committee, it would go to a house vote Thursday and then would have to pass the Florida Senate before going to the governor’s desk for his signature.

If it is signed, according to Fine, Disney could reapply with the legislature for its special district; otherwise, it would dissolve in June 2023.

Read the full text of H.B. 3C below:

PDF (1) by Thomas Mates on Scribd

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.