After Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the dissolution of special districts in the state, including Disney’s Reedy Creek, residents of the adjacent county filed a lawsuit to block the move alleging that they would suffer a tax increase if it went through. Now, a Florida Judge has dismissed this suit rejecting the rights of these residents to sue on behalf of Disney.
US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga observed that the complainants had not suffered any injuries as yet from the action of the lawmakers. “Even more critically, the plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that Disney faces any hindrance in asserting its own First Amendment rights. Far from it: the plaintiffs expressly allege that they ‘expect Disney and the State of Florida to litigate this matter for a significant period of time’. That fact alone warrants dismissal.”
Reedy Creek is a special district in Florida that was created for a particular purpose and has the jurisdiction to operate within a limited geographic boundary. It governs the recreational space of Walt Disney World, which is spread across 25000 acres of property, in Orange and Osceola counties.
As a result of Disney’s independent jurisdiction of the area, the multimedia giant has been solely responsible for the costs of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection, etc, thereby, exempting the residents of the counties from paying for the same.
The Florida legislature’s decision to dissolve the special district is perceived to be detrimental by the residents, who believe that they might have to take on the debts of Reedy Creek as well as ensure the maintenance of services.
Judge Altonaga noted that the plaintiffs’ theory was that the elimination of the Reedy Creek Improvement District might result in financial harm to them by virtue of a tax increase that has not yet been enacted. She called the suit “indirect and highly speculative.”
Altonaga also observed that the case was filed at the wrong court as her federal court had no jurisdiction over state law claims.
The bill is expected to be passed into a law soon by Governor DeSantis. Reedy Creek is among six special districts that will be affected by the new bill.
It is to be noted that the Florida Governor’s step came as retaliation after Disney denounced the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, last month, following a lot of outcry over the media giant’s previous silence.