• 9 Investigates Apopka tax money that went into private nonprofit fund


    Thousands of tax dollars meant for Apopka are in a private fund instead, and the money was transferred there on the former mayor's last day in office.

    Former mayoral candidate Glen Chancy said he couldn't understand why the city voted to establish a private nonprofit, with $200,000 of tax money, in former Mayor John Land's name.
    It happened during Land's final City Council meeting after 65 years in office.
    Channel 9's Lori Brown learned that the city manager and finance director are running the fund.
    The fund is a 501(c)(3), a private nonprofit, which means very little information about how the money is spent is public record.
    Brown tried to find out what the plans are for the money and could not get answers to her questions.
    The move to give away $200,000 happened during an emotional City Council meeting.
    It was the final meeting for 93-year-old Land. He was first elected mayor in 1949, but lost his office recently in a contentious race.
    The City Council unanimously approved establishing the John Land Apopka Community Trust and transferred the money from the city's general fund into the trust.
    "To create out of nothing a charity, and fund it, and put people with political connections to the existing power structure in charge of it," Chancy said, "there is no way this is going to function normally."
    Chancy said he is concerned that there will now be little if any transparency with the public funds.
    "I think that's indicative of what we've had in Apopka. We've had backroom deals, sweetheart deals to contractors, what I would call budget shenanigans for a long time," said Chancy.
    Late Tuesday afternoon, a week after she first tried to contact him, Apopka City Manager Richard Anderson did not respond to Brown's questions about the fund he now oversees. He said they plan use it for  college scholarships for Apopka students.
    The city gave Brown a list of board members. In addition to Anderson, the board reportedly includes two men who worked on Land's election campaign, the publisher of the Apopka Chief newspaper and attorney Ray McLeod. McLeod told Brown that he has not yet agreed to be on the board.
    Chancy said the charitable trust has anything but his trust.

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