Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

Mayor Bill Foster asks Tampa to pay for RNC security at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster is asking for help paying for security at the Republican National Convention's welcome party at Tropicana Field on Aug. 26.

The revelation comes after Foster declared that city taxpayers wouldn't pay to protect 20,000 dignitaries, delegates and journalists at the event or any other convention activities held in St. Petersburg.

On July 13, Foster asked Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to reimburse St. Petersburg for the "substantial costs in connection" with paying police, firefighters and other city employees.

Tampa is getting a $50 million grant from the federal government to pay for extra police personnel and convention-related security purchases such as police gear, vehicles and communications equipment.

If Buckhorn objected to helping St. Petersburg, Foster said, he would discuss the issue with the Tampa Bay Host Committee, which organized the event.

Foster asked for a reply by July 18 in order to present a signed agreement to the City Council on Aug. 2. Buckhorn hasn't responded.

Foster declined to comment Wednesday.

"As you know, I am on vacation with my family," Foster said in a text message. "Only my second week since taking office. I'll be back on Monday. Thank you for your consideration."

When the host committee announced the party on June 25, Foster said, "There won't be any general-operating funds used for this event."

Buckhorn said Wednesday that Tampa police Chief Jane Castor will meet with St. Petersburg officials soon.

Buckhorn indicated that Tampa will pick up some of the costs for St. Petersburg's event, as long as they meet federal guidelines.

For example, guidelines do not permit reimbursement for extra police dispatchers, workers posted too far from the event, or parks and recreation employees, the last of which Foster requested.

Foster's letter to Buckhorn and his five-page proposed agreement does not say how much the city wants from Tampa. The letter referred to an exhibit that detailed the estimated costs.

But St. Petersburg will not release that document because the activities have been declared national security events.

"It's something the Secret Service doesn't want you to have," said City Attorney John Wolfe.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

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