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County to Tribe: help us

After allegations the Poarch Band of Creek Indians attempted to use $500,000 for pet road projects to sway commissioners’ vote tanked budget talks last week, the Escambia County Commission discussed Tuesday asking the Tribe for that same amount to help bolster the county coffers.

The discussion began after commissioners learned Tuesday of another hit to the budget  – a $66,000 loss in grant funding for the 21st Circuit Judicial Drug Task Force.

“That means I have to find the funding to keep two officers if (the commission) wants to keep the drug task force,” Sheriff Grover Smith said. “The only place I know to go to get that is the very people you keep arguing about. I don’t want to be in the middle of things. You are all my friends, but you’ve got to decide if you want to cut the drug task force – which I think would be wrong.”

Last week, talks among commissioners fizzled because of a disagreement over legal fees for the tax assessor’s office to fight a suit filed by Poarch concerning the taxation of tribal property. In that budget, Tax Assessor Jim Hildreth is asking for $110,000 to defend his office. The same budget also calls for a 30 percent reduction in outside agency funding.