Former Disney-appointed Reedy Creek Improvement District allegedly used millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase resort season passes, merchandise, and many other perks, reported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ new board on Monday.
According to the New York Post, DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District called for the state’s inspector general’s office to launch an investigation into the now-dismantled RCID. The CFTOD took over for the RCID, which used to oversee the Disney theme park.
The Walt Disney Co. filed a lawsuit against DeSantis earlier this year after the governor revoked the park’s self-governing authority and dismantled the company-selected board.
The new oversight board allegedly uncovered evidence that the previous board paid Disney over $2 million in fiscal year 2022 for its members and their families to enjoy resort season passes and discounts for hotels, merchandise, cruises, food, and beverages.
A copy of the previous year’s first-quarter invoice shared by the CFTOD revealed that former RCID members and employees spent over $492,000 on tickets, $16,800 on merchandise discounts, $4,969 on food and beverage discounts, and $3,764 on a water parks discount. Additionally, charges were accrued for Disney Yacht Club Resort, Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney Coronado Springs Resort, the invoice stated.
“For decades, the former Disney-run RCID used taxpayer funds to provide season passes and amusement experiences to its employees and their family members, cover the cost of discounts on hotels, merchandise, food, and beverages, and give its own board members VIP Main Entrance passes,” CFTOD stated. “In 2022 alone, it cost taxpayers over $2.5 million.”
“In addition to constituting unethical benefits and perks, the scheme raises significant questions regarding self-dealing as the board members were only permitted a maximum of $100 per month in compensation per the Reedy Creek Improvement District Act,” the board added.
Disney sent the bill to CFTOD for the period ending on December 31, 2022, for a total of $533,522, documents revealed. For fiscal year 2022, the RCID had a total revenue of $169,012,258 and total expenditures of $178,736,100. No line items in its operating budget listed resort passes or discounts.
“Immediately upon discovering the scheme, the CFTOD set in motion plans to eliminate it,” CFTOD added. “All CFTOD employees who require access to Disney premises to perform their official duties will still be able to access them.”
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