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Volume XX Number 18 December, 1997

* Few Indians Attend Everglades Park Bash
* Council Cuts Dividends
* Ivan Billie Wins Grid Scholarship
* A 'Sad Trip' For Proud Seminoles
* Neh tuk huhn Cho bush chah
* Christmas Memories

Council Cuts Dividends, Suspends Deductions

By Peter B. Gallagher

Hollywood - Responding to cash flow problems and an unsure financial future, the Seminole Tribal Council has reduced monthly dividends to Tribal members by $500 and suspended mandatory dividend loan deductions, the Seminole Tribune has learned. The decision, made behind closed doors at a special Council meeting Dec. 11, will drop the Tribal member dividend from $2,000 to $1,500 for the next six months.

"This gives us some relaxing room," said Tribal Chairman James Billie. "It had reached the point where we were not going to be able to operate." A recent dividend increase from $1,000 to $2,000, higher budgets for Tribal government programs, overspending and threats to gaming income from both the federal and state governments combined to put the Tribe in temporary financial jeopardy, said the Chairman.

Councilmen Jack Smith Jr., David Cypress, President Mitchell Cypress and Chairman Billie voted for the emergency measures. Hollywood Councilman Max Osceola Jr. voted no after a lengthy examination of current program budget figures.

In other actions, the Council heard updates from Joe Ferraro of Big Cypress Casino; a GMI attorney briefed Councilmen on the Coconut Creek Casino; and Tribal Housing Director Joel Frank introduced HUD official Kevin Fitzgibbons, who agreed to meet informally with the Chairman that afternoon concerning federal housing monies.

Controller Ted Boyd hosted a discussion of Internet gaming possibilities, including proposals regarding Internet gaming in the Caribbean Island of St. Kitt's. The Council passed a resolution authorizing Legal Counsel Jim Shore to formally investigate the project and report back to the Council.

William Osceola was welcomed as the new Council (non-voting) member from Trail, replacing Ronnie Jimmie.

Chairman Billie gave a brief overview of a herbal medicine project that botanist Mike Bond is proposing for the Seminole Tribe and promised to have Bond make a formal presentation at the next Council meeting.

The Council also authorized a loan of $6.4 million to "put on the table" according to Shore, as part of the Tribe's ongoing effort to purchase back the rights to the Candlelight Park land.

Twenty-four individuals were added to the Tribal roll, setting the current Seminole Tribe of Florida population at 2440.

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