Disney continued its longstanding silence over the fate of Reedy Creek on Wednesday, leaving strategists guessing over whether the company had struck a backroom deal with Gov. Ron DeSantis or not.
However, an attorney said the company would have a strong chance of keeping the status quo if it decided to take a case to court.
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“Disney is going to go from uniquely independent to uniquely under political control,” Jacob Schumer, of Shepard, Smith, Kohlmyer & Hand, PA, said. “They are now getting taxed by somebody who they don’t have a vote for.”
The taxation-without-representation model is unique among Florida’s special districts. Most districts are represented by a board chosen by the residents of the district, though some are appointed by the governor – particularly water management districts.
Read: House committee signs off on proposal to change Disney’s Reedy Creek
Allies of DeSantis argue what they’re doing is legal because the district is mostly being kept intact – an effort to get around the Florida constitution’s requirement that a new taxing district be approved by voters.
Schumer, who represented many Central Florida governments, wasn’t buying it.
“I think that the courts will be very concerned with the prospect of a government being able to basically create a government system around a corporation that has frustrated them, or said something that they didn’t like,” he said. “I think that’s actually going to be seen more negatively by a conservative court.”
Watch: Florida special session: 189-page bill proposes the future of Reedy Creek
However, he noted Disney may simply give in – either because a deal has been struck behind the scenes, or because fighting the new system would cost too much.
“Whether or not practically it actually makes sense for them as a question for them to decide,” he said.
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