Politics

St. Petersburg Mayor Wants Tampa To Pay For RNC Security

By Cassandra Khan, CBS Tampa
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File photo. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

File photo. (Doug Benc/Getty Images)

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St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster wants Tampa to cover the costs for a Republican National Convention event held in his city. Although the convention will be based in Tampa, the welcome party will be taking place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Aug. 26.

Foster wants Tampa to pay for the extra security and workers that St. Petersburg will have to hire to handle the welcome party.  He has previously declared that the residents of his city would not spend their tax money on protection for any of the politicians or journalists or on any other convention activity in the city.

Foster asked Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn to reimburse the city for “substantial costs in connection” with paying security, emergency medical personnel and other city employees, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The city of Tampa, which will host the convention from Aug. 27-31, is receiving a $50-million federal grant to help pay for the added security, police gear, vehicles and communications equipment. The city has already spent about $13.6 million on security items, including 200 bicycles, 13 electric all-terrain vehicles and one armored truck.

Foster has said that if Buckhorn did not reply to his request by July 18, he would take the issue to the Tampa Bay Host Committee, the group responsible for planning the event.

As of yet, the Tampa mayor has not responded to Foster, but said Wednesday that Tampa police Chief Jane Castor will meet with St. Petersburg officials soon.

He also indicated that the city of Tampa could cover part of the cost, as long as St. Petersburg followed the federal guidelines. The Times says that those guidelines do not allow the “reimbursement for extra police dispatchers, workers posted too far from the event, or parks and recreation employees.”

Foster has requested reimbursement for parks and recreation employees.

Foster sent a letter and a five-page proposed agreement to Buckhorn on July 13. The document did not say how much the city of St. Petersburg wants from Tampa, but did reference estimated costs.

CBS radio personality Orlando Davis says that Foster and the city will greatly benefit from any convention activities that take place in St. Petersburg, and that the city should pay a part of the welcome party expense. “I think the lion’s share should come from the help that the government has given Tampa for hosting,” Davis said, “but I think St. Pete should have some part in it.”

“I would ask him (Foster), are you going to get some fiduciary benefit from it? Are your hotels going to be sold out? … Are your restaurants and vendors going to make money? Because obviously every hospitality venue in the Bay Area is going to get some type of up-take from this convention, so everyone’s got to have some skin in the game.”

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