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Feud over Palmetto Youth Center leadership, funding spills into County Commission Meeting

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PALMETTO, FL (WWSB) - A heated battle over leadership and funding of the Palmetto Youth Center spilled over to Tuesday's Manatee County Commission meeting. Commissioner Charles Smith and the center's executive director Reggie Bellamy went head to head, and now, the battle between the two is about more than the Palmetto Youth Center as Bellamy announced his candidacy for Smith's commission seat.

This battle started when Commissioner Charles Smith called for Palmetto Youth Center executive director Reggie Bellamy's resignation earlier this year, after Bellamy never showed up to County Commission meetings in the fall to fight for funding for his youth center.

But Bellamy showed up Tuesday, ready to defend himself and his programs.

Smith says the Children's Services Advisory Board wasn't going to give the center any of it's annual $114,000 funding and that he fought tooth and nail to get the commission to support it, ultimately saving that funding.

At Tuesday's commission meeting, Commissioner Carol Whitmore told commissioners that she had told Bellamy that he didn't need to come to those meetings. She told Smith she couldn't tell him that because of Sunshine Laws.

But Smith's issues with Bellamy are deeper than what he felt was as lack of fight for funding. Smith says that hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are going to waste because of the lack of programs at the center under Bellamy's leadership.

However, Smith won't call for the withdrawal of the funding.

Tuesday's conversation ended without any solution. The idea of a town hall meeting in the district was thrown out there.

As for the upcoming battle for the Manatee County Commission seat, Bellamy announced his candidacy on Tuesday for his district two seat that Smith currently holds. Both men are Democrats and will again go head to head in August's primary.