After Fighting Employees Over Thousands, Disney Board Set To Spend Millions on Lawyers

Disney Board to spend millions on lawyers
Credit: Disney

When Reedy Creek firefighter Pete Simon addressed a meeting of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board to passionately make a case for continued benefits at Walt Disney World, he summed up the attitude of the Board since it took over for the Reedy Creek Improvement District earlier this year. Simon said, “All we’ve seen and heard is cuts. Cuts to budgets, cuts to staffing, cuts to maintenance, and now cuts to benefits.”

The Board, appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, wanted to cut employee perks at Disney World after receiving a bill for $2.5 million. The benefits included season passes and discounts on hotel rooms, merchandise, and food. Upon receiving the invoice, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District made a referral to the Florida Inspector General, claiming that it was a “scheme” for Disney to steal taxpayer dollars.

In a moment of compromise, the Board said that it would give the 400 employees $1,000 of taxpayer money to “do whatever they chose.” President of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Union, Jon Shirey, told Politico that the Union’s lawyers were meeting with the Board to devise a compromise.

Firefighters at EPCOT, Disney World

Firefighters at EPCOT, Walt Disney World Resort / Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

But now, it has become more apparent where the money the CFTOD wants to cut from the budget is going. In his budget presentation to the Board, Administrator Glen Gilzean asks for $4.5 million for 2024 for “Disney-induced expenses.” The Board has already spent $1.9 million this year on those expenses.

Gilzean means that the Board seeks that money for lawyers for its dueling lawsuits with the Walt Disney Company. The new Board sued the Walt Disney Company in state court and recently asked the judge to rule in its favor without a trial.

The Walt Disney Company countersued the Board, seeking damages for the new Disney governing Board allegedly violated the Florida Constitution and Disney’s contract with the state and the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney has also sued the Board and Gov Ron DeSantis in Federal Court.

Glen Gilzean Ron DeSantis

Credit: Central Florida Urban League

The legal fees for the new Board will continue well into next year and possibly beyond, especially as the federal court has yet to set a date for its hearing on Disney’s case.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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