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OCPS’s half-penny sales tax will appear on November ballot, Gilzean says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Commissioners and School Board members said on Wednesday the new Supervisor of Elections could risk two initiatives from making it on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, the DeSantis-appointee, Glen Gilzean, is denying all allegations from commissioners, school board members, and the Orange County School District.

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On Wednesday, school board members and the district told 9 Investigates their half-penny sales tax is under legal review by Gilzean’s office.

Gilzean said the school’s half-penny sales tax referendum is not under legal review and that it will be on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, commissioners claim they’re having other issues with the Office.

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Commissioners said Gilzean hasn’t set a deadline for the rural boundaries’ referendum but has suggested the deadline be moved to this Friday.

Gilzean told 9 Investigates his office is working with Orange County to get the rural boundary issue on the ballot.

The Election Supervisor’s Office said in a press release Wednesday it processed the School District’s request to place the question on the ballot June 6 and began drafting the ballot ahead of November.

The Office provided us with a copy of the draft ballot below.

Controversy over Half-Penny Sales Tax Ballot Initiative

The swirling controversy played out at a League of Women Voters of Orange County meeting Wednesday where Elections Supervisor candidates demanded transparency from the office.

“We haven’t heard a clear answer. I wish Glen would answer it,” said Dan Helm, about the office not setting a deadline for Orange County’s rural boundary referendum.

“No person, let alone someone appointed should make a decision for 800,000 Orange County voters,” said Wes Hodge about the concerns with the ballot initiatives.

The School District’s half-penny sales tax question, if passed, could bring in $4 billion dollars’ worth of revenue.

The School District told 9 Investigates Glen Gilzean himself informed County Communications Officer Scott Howat that question is under legal review by his office.

The conversation happened while at prayer breakfast at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville last Wednesday.

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School board members said it is not the Supervisor of Elections’ role to conduct a legal review on a ballot initiative, and it has never happened before.

The district said Howat questioned Gilzean on why it was under legal review since the Supervisor’s General Counsel, Nick Shannin, previously confirmed it would be on the ballot.

Howat was told by Gilzean that circumstances have changed since Shannin was no longer serving as general counsel, the district said.

Shannin confirmed he is now longer general counsel but that he is on retainer with the office.

Again, Gilzean denied all allegations and said the initiative will be on the ballot.

“It’s just not true. I’m the biggest supporter of schools, as a former school board member, and it’s unfortunate that there’s lies going around about our office,” Gilzean said.

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Commissioners question “last-minute” discussion over referendum deadline

Gilzean says there is nothing out of the ordinary in the process to get one of the Board of County Commission’s questions on the ballot.

“From what I understand, it’s always been that way. So, for this to be political, it’s just unfortunate,” Gilzean said, talking about negotiating with the county on when the deadline will be.

Last week, commissioners voted to add the rural boundary issue to the ballot. It would add protections for rural land and curb development. This is after the Florida Legislature tried to block the controversial

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Monday, 9 Investigates reported on how commissioners were concerned it wouldn’t make the November ballot after Gilzean allegedly told a commissioner the deadline would be this Friday, June 14 at noon.

Historically, the deadline for commissioners to submit the ballot referendum to the Election Supervisor’s Office is mid-to-late August.

Gilzean said he plans to meet with County Administrator Byron Brooks this week to set a deadline. The County Attorney has requested the deadline date be August 29th.

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