Three named in Federal lawsuit refiled against Florida Governor concerning the dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek

Desantis vs. Mickey Mouse
Credit: Florida Politics

A Miami attorney has refiled a suit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis regarding potential tax liabilities resulting from the pending dissolution of Disney’s World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' takeover of Disney's Reedy Creek could flip the  power structure, say experts - Orlando Business Journal

Credit: The Business Journals/Office of the Governor

The suit was filed by William J. Sanchez of Miami-based William J. Sanchez & Associates P.A., on May 16 with the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County on behalf of Osceola County residents Michael, Leslie, and Eduardo Foronda and Orange County resident Vivian Gonzales. The suit alleges that taxpayers’ rights will be violated by Gov. DeSantis’s new law aimed at dissolving Florida special districts created before 1968, which includes Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The lawsuit names Gov. DeSantis, as well as Jim Zingale, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue and Laurel M. Lee, former Florida Secretary of State.

Sanchez refiled the case in state court after a judge dismissed a similar case on May 10. That suit alleged similar damage for the plaintiffs if the special districts are dissolved.

Gov. DeSantis says he won't let local governments inherit Reedy Creek debt,  responsibility

Credit: Florida Politics

The suit concerns a bill Governor DeSantis signed into law on April 22, 2022, which will effectively dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek District, as well as a handful of other special districts in Florida that had original inception dates before 1968. The passing of the law has led to speculation about the potential tax liability that could fall on residents of Orange and Osceola Counties, regardless of the fact that DeSantis has said that such a predicament will not take place.

According to the Orlando Business Journal, Disney’s special district encompasses 39 square miles. The entire area is governed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which acts “with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.” It includes the cities of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake and boasts its own fire department and staff. It also contracts law enforcement from local counties.

Lake Buena Vista Chronicles: Selling The Magic, 1972 « Progress City, U.S.A.

Credit: Progress City, USA

RELATED: Disney World Guests in need of emergency medical care may have to wait, thanks to a new Reedy Creek policy

The Orlando Business Journal states that the lawsuit comes with a complaint:

The complaint filed with the lawsuit alleges a Taxpayer’s Bill of Right violation and that the state infringed on the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights for due process — or the ability to be involved in proceedings that could have an effect on them.

“Plaintiffs ask for the opportunity to be heard since their rights are clearly being violated, and ask for the court to issue a declaratory judgment,” the complaint reads in part.

“There’s a whole bunch of different things that we will be able to do,” he said from the podium at Seminole State College on May 16. “I’d much rather have the state leading that effort than potentially having local governments” lead the effort.”

“Say the state is in charge and has appointees of the governor that would be in charge of the tax rates for Disney; that seems over the top,” said Aubrey Jewett, associate professor and assistant school director at the University of Central Florida’s School of Politics, Security and International Affairs. “Politically, it would look like the state is exacting their last pound of flesh from Disney. Especially if the governor has a say on the new board members to determine the tax rates, roads, and utilities, and Disney had no say.”

As of Friday, no hearing had yet been scheduled for the case.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!