Privatize American Cities? Learning Lessons from Disney’s Experiment with “Private” Government
Washington, D.C., July 14, 2010 – Would governments do a better job of governing if some were privatized? A new case study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute examines the Reedy Creek Improvement District¸ an essentially “private” government created by and for Florida’s Walt Disney World – telling the story of how that government is run and highlighting some of the environmental and operational benefits of privatization.
Arin Greenwood, author of the CEI Issue Analysis Florida’s Reedy Creek Improvement District: Could private government help fix Florida’s property insurance system?, traveled to Reedy Creek, interviewing key people involved in making it run smoothly. Greenwood also toured the land, viewing first hand the successful management of extensive wetlands.
As Florida’s legislators look for politically feasible ways to save wetlands, save money, and keep Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and Catastrophe Fund solvent, Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District offers a compelling – though not uncontroversial – example of how private government can help reduce taxpayers’ burden in paying for storm mitigation, while giving flexibility and control to private landowners.
As Greenwood explains, Walt Disney World sits on of 25,000 acres in Central Florida governed and managed by a private government - the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district levies taxes, devises and enforces building codes, handles waste management and fire protection, issues bonds to finance infrastructure projects, and performs many other functions ordinarily performed by local governments.
The district has also been successful at avoiding insured losses, even during a notorious and financially ruinous hurricane season. Greenwood suggests this could be a viable model elsewhere in the state and the country.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.