Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa releases St. Petersburg's estimated RNC costs

ST. PETERSBURG — The city's police expenses for the Republican National Convention's welcome party at Tropicana Field have been declared so secret that a top-security clearance is needed to know the details.

The secrecy apparently stops at St. Petersburg's borders.

In response to a Tampa Bay Times information request, the city of Tampa released a five-page breakdown that showed the nearly $1 million in estimated costs submitted for reimbursement by St. Petersburg. Tampa received a $50 million federal grant to pay for extra police personnel for convention activities.

In July, St. Petersburg officials would not release details because the party had been declared a national security event.

St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell also recently requested the information from Tampa because he could not get it from St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster or other city administrators.

"Clearly, Tampa must not have known it was a national security secret," Kornell said. "It's disappointing that stories keep shifting and changing."

Here are some estimated expenses for the Aug. 26 welcome party:

• $281,000 to pay for work from 523 sworn police officers and supervisors, and $53,000 for police evidence clerks, call takers and other support personnel.

• $161,000 for firefighters, medics and support personnel who worked Aug. 25 and 26.

• $79,000 for 113 employees from eight city departments, including parks and recreation, water resources and traffic engineering; and $14,516 for 27 fire hydrant locks.

The total expenses were $949,647. Tampa agreed to reimburse the city $950,000. A final invoice must be submitted to Tampa by Oct. 1.

When pressed by St. Petersburg council members during a meeting Sept. 13, police Chief Chuck Harmon said some costs might not be fully revealed because it could compromise security at future events.

Harmon did promise to release all nonsecurity expenditures, adding: "There are certain things I can't give you unless you've been vetted by the federal government." He declined Monday to speak about specific costs.

St. Petersburg's RNC costs have stoked controversy among the council members and citizens because Foster has yet to provide a full breakdown.

He included an estimated $580,000 in additional convention-related expenses in a memo sent to the council in early September. The $580,000 is part of a $5.2 million deficit this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

During the Sept. 13 meeting, Foster reiterated his pledge that taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for the private welcome party. But he later acknowledged that some expenses might not be reimbursed, such as those for police training to control large crowds and protecting dignitaries.

On Monday, Foster declined to talk in-depth about the costs.

"That is only part of it," he said in an e-mail. "The balance of our reimbursement request will come at the end of the month. The data and records will speak for itself."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459.

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