James H. Hildreth is the Tax Assessor for Escambia County, Alabama and recently lost a lawsuit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The tribe won the suit which prevented Hildreth from collecting as much as $22.3 million in taxes from the tribe’s property, the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, which is located in Atmore. Hildreth was found to have no authority over the tribal casino but is not giving up.
The Tax Assessor is now taking his case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is asking the county to pay his legal fees, which means more money from the local government. County commissioners are not wanting to provide the funds, with one commissioner stating that the attorney for Hildreth and the Tax Assessor have accused the Poarch Band of bribing the county to fund certain projects.
Stephanie Bryan, the Chairwoman of the tribe, spoke with The Atmore Advance, stating that Hildreth did not mention the history of the tribe which pre-dates the current tax dispute, of the tribe having a good reputation as a neighbor and making donations to local schools as well as to organizations in the state, including law enforcement. The tribe reportedly donated over $6 million in 2014 to the community.
To help with his case, Hildreth is asking for his legal budget to be increased from $45,000 to $110,000 as he prepares to appeal his case. The attorney for the Tax Assessor is a former Congressman, Spencer Bachus.