PCI, county finalize meeting

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A much-anticipated meeting between Poarch Creek and Escambia County officials has been officially scheduled in hopes the two governing bodies can come to an agreement on the issue of whether or not tribal lands held in trust are subject to local taxes.

Escambia County Commissioner Brandon Smith said Tuesday the meeting will take place Tuesday, July 24 around 6 p.m. Although no official venue has been chosen for the sit down, Smith said the meeting would take place “on this end of the county.”

The official roster for the meeting, which has been heavily debated between the two groups, has been determined and will include Smith, Commissioner David Quarker, whose district includes Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, and members of the PCI Tribal Council.

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Following the announcement from commission Chairman David Stokes that a meeting would be sought, Stokes announced he intended to attend the meeting along side Quarker and without any other members of the commission. PCI officials quickly responded, requesting

Smith and Quarker represent the commission alone.

Smith said, while he does not expect the meeting to yield immediate answers to the taxation issue, he is hopeful it will be the first step in coming to an agreement with PCI officials.

“This going to be a sort of talk-it-out type thing,” Smith said. “What I’ll do is I’ll just carry to them the wishes of the commissioners. I’ll let them know what each commissioner would like to see and they’ll let us know what they want to happen and we’ll just go from there.”
Smith, who has fought the commission’s probes into tribal affairs since their inception, said he is encouraged by the meeting finally becoming a reality, but expressed frustration that a sit down was not offered to PCI prior to any action being taken by commissioners.
“You know, before all of this you could just go in there and talk to (PCI officials), Smith said. “Now it seems like there’s some bad blood and you have to go through all of this. It’s a shame.”

PCI officials could not be reached for comment following the meeting’s announcement, but Tribal Councilman Robert McGhee said last week he and the Tribal Council were looking forward to finalizing a date to meet with Smith and Quarker.