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Self government

Disney in the dark about Florida’s decision to dissolve self-government

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — At Walt Disney World’s first private government meeting since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure to disband it next year, officials said Wednesday they were still confused about the meaning of the new legislation, although some ripple effects were beginning to be felt.

The government administrator, called Reedy Creek Improvement District, said the expansion of a solar power project could be delayed due to funding issues related to legislation, and the district’s firefighters’ union has expressed concerns. concerns about what disbanding might mean for members. lifetime benefits.

After the meeting, Donald Greer, a member of Reedy Creek’s board of supervisors since 1975, said the board could not provide clear answers on these questions because “we don’t know where we are going.”

“The district may have an answer as soon as we know what that means, but I don’t know if anyone knows what that means. I don’t think anyone has deciphered it,” Greer said.

DeSantis signed the measure into law last week in a move that many saw as punishment for Disney’s opposition to yet another new law banning gender identity and the teaching of sexual orientation at the start of elementary school, which critics call “Don’t Say Gay”.

Last week, a day before DeSantis signed the bill, the Reedy Creek Improvement District sent a statement to investors saying it would continue financial operations as usual. The district wrote that its agreement with the state prohibits Florida from limiting or altering the district’s ability to collect taxes or meet its obligations.

Critics of the dissolution bill have warned that taxpayers in neighboring counties could end up shouldering around $1 billion in debt to the district. DeSantis dismissed those concerns and said additional legislation would be drafted to clarify the future of these special districts in the state.

At the Reedy Creek meeting on Wednesday, District Administrator John Classe said a developer had run into difficulty funding a planned expansion of a solar power program, meaning he could be delayed.

Jon Shirey, union chief of Reedy Creek firefighters, who make up about half of the 400 private government employees, asked supervisors to reassure his members that their jobs and benefits would be preserved.

“We were told to be quiet, not to talk to the media, not to deal with current events,” Shirey told supervisors. “We were told that the district leaders would tell the story. They will be the ones to get the message across. I ask you: ‘What is this message?’

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera