A resident of Winter Park has filed a motion to intervene in the recently-refiled lawsuit against the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, supporting the move.
According to Orlando Business Journal, James Pickett filed the motion on May 24th to join the defendants. Pickett disputed claims made by Osceola County residents Michael, Leslie, and Eduardo Foronda and Orange County resident Vivian Gonzalez in the filing, claiming that the district’s dissolution and absorption by Orange and Osceola Counties could provide a financial windfall.
The Forondas and Gonzalez claim that the law set to dissolve the district next year violates taxpayer rights, as the the district’s bond debt will be absorbed by the counties, whose residents could see property taxes raise up to $2,200 to cover the debt.
The motion says, “The cited opinions clearly have, as a motive, fearmongering, and scaremongering the residents of Orange and Osceola counties into believing that they are going to be subjected to increased property taxation and loss of jobs in the community — if recent legislation dissolving (inactivating) Reedy Creek Improvement District is allowed to become effective. Plaintiffs’ cited opinions are in contradistinction to existing Florida Constitution, laws, and rules. Plaintiffs rely upon a false supposition that RCID was to be a fiefdom of the Magic Kingdom, rather than a Florida Special District to promote tourism and community development.”
Citing a 2020 audit, Pickett also claims that the total assets of the district are in excess of $1.56 billion, while the liabilities total $1.14 billion, adding in the motion: “RCID owns approximately 7,200 acres of land in the district […] which, rather than at original cost, conservatively have a current average value of $100,000 per acre, meaning that — without considering other current assets — there will be at least $7,200,000,000 to pay RCID’s bond indebtedness of $1 billion or even $2 billion without placing a burden on the citizens of [Orange and Osceola counties]. It is probable that there would be a bidding war if another entity wished to place competing properties in RCID. Hence, supervening authorities [such as the counties] stand to net $5 billion or more, as an operation of law, by dissolving RCID. Thus, SB 4-C will provide a financial windfall to [the counties], rather than a financial burden.”
Back in May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stated his intention for the state to assume control of the district, rather than leave it up to local governments.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District is the special taxing district that governs the land of the Walt Disney World Resort, acting with the same authority as a county government. It provides the resort’s fire department, and contracts local law enforcement from nearby counties.
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