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The Unraveling of Disney's Special Taxing District

Jaye Calhoun

Today on Mountain Money, Roger Goldman and Alison Kuhlow delve into Florida’s attempt to unravel Disney’s special taxing district. Analysis of this effort involves things only attorneys can understand and that’s why Jaye Calhoun, partner at Kean Miller LLP, joins in.

Disney World in Central Florida encompasses some 25,000 acres or 39 square miles stretching over two counties. Disney is the largest employer in the state of Florida, with some 80,000 employees – a number that doesn’t include the thousands of employees associated with many businesses that are dependent on the tourist traffic driven by Disney.

Back in the 1960s when Disney was contemplating the development of Disney World, the Florida counties of Orange and Osceola lacked the staff and resources to manage a development of this size. Accordingly, they created something called the Reedy Creek Improvement District that transferred many powers and obligations effectively to Disney.

Two weeks ago the Florida legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill that would dissolve Reedy Creek effective June 1, 2023. The bill was passed quickly, without any hearings or detailed public analysis of its implications.

And those implications are apparently profound. So what is an independent tax district and what has been the history of Reedy Creek? What functions does it serve and what will happen when it ceases to operate? What are the tax implications for the citizens of Florida in general and the two most affected counties in particular? What are the legal implications with respect to bonds issued by Reedy Creek and what are the First Amendment implications raised by the legislation?

We are lucky to have on Mountain Money this morning national tax expert Jaye Calhoun of the Kean Miller law firm to help us understand what has happened to the Mouse in Florida.

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Co-host of Mountain Money since 2012.