The CFTOD Votes To Replace Disney Benefits With Annual Stipend
After weeks of back and forth with district employees, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board voted to strip employees of their Walt Disney World Annual Passes and other benefits in exchange for a $3,000 annual stipend.
The final benefit was voted on today and will sunset after two budget years unless reauthorized by the board.
The Benefit Change Has Been Controversial
When the CFTOD board initially proposed giving employees an annual stipend in lieu of Disney benefits, the backlash was quick and fierce.
“This benefit is intangible and generational. We have retirees, some of them here today, that work their entire careers in order to earn this benefit,” said firefighter Pete Simon. He then went on to share his hopes that he would one day take his grandkids and great-grandkids to the parks.
Pete Simon, a Reedy Creek firefighter, made a powerful statement during today’s CFTOD meeting about the impact of removing generational benefits for families.
“This week marks the first brick being pulled in the dismantling of the district … my only question is, what’s next?” pic.twitter.com/bzt8tW5fc8
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) August 23, 2023
Initially, the district proposed a stipend of $1425. The number was bumped up after employees complained that their passes were worth more than that.
The Stipend Will Offer More Flexibility
Following today’s vote, board member Ron Peri said he understood the value of the Disney benefits, but the district wanted to offer flexibility.
“We thought it also made sense to provide our employees and retirees who did not use the passes with a new benefit, and that is the freedom to receive the cash value of the passes instead of the passes themselves,” he said.
According to district administrator Glen Gilzean, talks are ongoing on a proposal to let employees purchase equivalent passes directly from Disney.
Another CFTOD Controversy
By messing with employee benefits, the CFTOD risks alienating the Reedy Creek firefighters, who have been among the new board’s staunchest allies.
While it remains to be seen how CFTOD employees react to the increased stipend, the elimination of Disney benefits appears to be another PR blunder from the Ron DeSantis-appointed district.
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