NEWS: Judge DISMISSES Taxpayer Lawsuit Over the Dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek District

The situation with Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (“RCID”) has changed significantly over the last several weeks.

©Reedy Creek

The RCID is a special district that has essentially let Disney function as its own county and gives Disney a great deal of control over the land on which it operates in Florida. It’s been in place for over 50 years. Its dissolution went from just an idea to a bill in front of the Florida legislature, to a bill passed by the Florida legislature and ultimately signed by the Florida governor. Under the current law, the RCID is set to be dissolved by 2023. Not long ago, a lawsuit was filed by Florida taxpayers regarding this issue, and now we’ve got an important update on that situation.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a Federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Florida taxpayers against the Florida Governor surrounding the dissolution of Reedy Creek.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 3 residents that are from Orange and Osceola counties. In their complaint, the residents had argued that they, and other taxpayers would be “burdened with at least $1 billion in Disney’s bond debt” if the state goes through with its plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement district. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Reedy Creek Fire Marshal Sign in Disney World

As the Orlando Sentinel explains, the complaint argued that “Florida was violating a state law called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, as well as a contractual obligation with Reedy Creek’s bondholders and Disney’s First Amendment rights.”

The Judge who dismissed the case was U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, who had been appointed by George W. Bush. In the order of dismissal, Judge Altonaga stated that the lawsuit was dismissed for a few different reasons, including “the federal court’s lack of standing over state issues and because the law does not go into effect until July 2023.”

©RCID

Judge Altonaga noted that, in her opinion, the plaintiffs did not plausibly allege that they have suffered a “concrete injury” as a result of the alleged violations of Disney’s rights. She also opined that the complaint didn’t show that the plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.

According to Altonaga, the law at issue “does not apply to them [meaning the Plaintiffs], they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.”

Reedy Creek Fire Department

Judge Altonaga went on to say that the Plaintiff’s claim to standing was that the dissolution of the RCID “might result in financial harm to Plaintiffs by virtue of a tax increase that has not yet been enacted.” According to Altonaga, “That indirect and highly speculative alleged injury cannot support federal jurisdiction.

William Sanchez, the attorney who filed the case (who is a Miami lawyer and a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate) shared that he will be refiling a lawsuit on this matter by next Monday.

Disney World

Sanchez said “This is just the beginning of the battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers.”

In early May, a number of Florida state senators held a press conference during which they discussed the RCID and the potential impact on surrounding areas.

According to ClickOrlando.com, during the press conference, the 3 state senators “all criticized the law saying it…could leave residents in Orange and Osceola counties on the hook for well over a billion dollars in the district’s bond debt.”

Press Conference | Via Video from WESH 2 News

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, however, has said that additional legislation is set to be developed to make sure local residents don’t see tax increases as a result of the changes. He has not, however, released a full plan explaining how that would work.

During the Florida senators’ press conference in early May, Senator Linda Stewart said, “The governor will establish a new district, that’s our latest word, under the general purpose government controlled by the governor with appointments by the governor…Therefore the debt will be paid, if this were the case, by the state of Florida, for over a billion dollars.”

Senator Stewart | Via Video from WESH 2 News

This is still a developing situation. We’ll be on the lookout for more details and will share those with you.

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