Ron DeSantis Takes Control of Disney’s Special District.

The Famous Franchise with a major impact on Osceola County.

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The Famous Franchise with a major impact on Osceola County.

Reese Kanyuh, Reporter

Recently, beloved amusement park franchise Disney and Florida Governer Ron DeSantis have been in a head-to-head feud over a current education bill that restricts classroom discussion of gender and sexual orientation. The latest progression has been DeSantis’ bill ridding Disney of its status as an independent special district. For as long as Disney has been around, they have almost governed themselves, providing ambulance and fire services for the local counties, as well as taxing themselves. This has given Disney autonomy as a company, and definitely aided in how they function as a theme park in Orlando. DeSantis says that this has allowed the park to overlook local rules and building codes.

When Disney publicly stated they were against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, DeSantis said that Disney had “crossed the line.” From there, DeSantis has set out to “punish the Disney company for its stances on social and educational issues.” The bill stripping Disney of its special district status may not just impact Disney, but Osceola and Orange County too.

Coming at a costly price to the local counties, Osceola and Orange County will inherit Disney’s debts. This means higher taxes for residents living in the counties. Since Disney is such a large corporation, their financial situation would have a huge impact on Osceola and Orange County, as well as their residents. In an interview, Danielle Prieur of WMFE said, “homeowners here could see property taxes jump by 20% to make up the difference. And even then, it probably won’t be enough to cover all the money that would be lost.” Florida’s Senate states that when a county takes over a special district, the county will assume the debt of the special district. In this case, Orange and Osceola County will assume Disney’s $1 billion in bond debt.

Besides the potential financial crises, the counties may suffer a lack of emergency services. Danielle Prieur also said, “Disney was in charge of ambulance services and fire services, so if someone has a heart attack or a car accident, now it’s up to the county to figure out how to handle that – and how to foot the bill.” Removing Disney’s special district title has the potential to do major damage to the local counties, let alone the statement the bill makes for Florida as a whole. “The corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” stated DeSantis. All we can do right now is see how this situation plays out, and hope for the best.