Orange County mayor worried Reedy Creek repeal could mean ‘cost shifts’ for taxpayers

Jerry Demings says Disney, Orange County have 50+ years of community partnership

Mayor Jerry Demings said leaders in Orange County are closely watching developments in Tallahassee after Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would strip Walt Disney World of its special governing powers.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Mayor Jerry Demings said leaders in Orange County are closely watching developments in Tallahassee after Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would strip Walt Disney World of its special governing powers.

After an event Wednesday, Demings said he had mixed reactions to the proposal.

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“My primary concern is about any particular cost shifts that are mandated by the state to local governments,” he said.

The move would sunset the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was part of a deal with the state in 1967 that allowed Disney to build its theme park in Central Florida.

“Disney has been a good community partner over the last 50-plus years,” Demings said.  “They have reimbursed us 100% of the costs for the sheriff’s office, for example, who patrol the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”

If the bill is passed and signed into law, it could shift Disney’s municipal service responsibility to Orange and Osceola counties.

“They have been fairly self-contained. That has worked to the benefit of all Orange County residents because that has not been a tax burden to all of our residents,” Demings said.

Talks of the measure came after Disney opposed a recent bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that bans classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in early grades.

While it’s unclear what kind of impact there would be on taxpayers, Demings said he believes the bill is politically motivated.

“I believe that in many ways this is, unfortunately, politics of the day that’s happening within our state and that long term (it) is not good for Floridians,” Demings said.

To find out more about the battle between DeSantis and Disney, click here.


About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.