By Mayor Bill Foster
It's been less than 24 hours since the Republican National Convention drew to a close. By all accounts, St. Petersburg and the entire Bay Area successfully showcased the beauty and vitality of our community and shined in an international spotlight.
I'd like to clarify an article running in today's Tampa Bay Times. In no way will St. Petersburg residents foot the bill for expenses related to the welcome party and security expenses in and around Tropicana Field.
The city's agreement with Tampa will ensure that St. Petersburg is reimbursed
for all security-related staffing for all events, both here and in Tampa, from
August 25 to 30.
The city has a system in place to recover any eligible expenses related to the RNC in the same manner it recovers storm-related costs from FEMA. We will be seeking reimbursement for mutual aid assistance provided to Tampa and expect complete repayment for all expenses by the city to secure Tropicana Field for the Sunday evening welcoming party. We will also be seeking reimbursement for all security-related expenses for other RNC events that occurred in our beautiful city throughout the week.
The $580,000 in expenses reported in the Tampa Bay Times was a staff projection made long before the RNC had signed the agreement for the use of
Tropicana Field, and weeks before the city inked its agreement with the city of Tampa.
It will be weeks before the final costs related to the RNC are tallied and submitted for reimbursement. We incurred expenses for services that are and will be of general benefit to our residents long after this event has concluded. St. Petersburg Police received valuable training related to crowd control, emergency management, homeland security and transportation planning that will leave the city well prepared long into the future. We received more than $200,000 in safety equipment, technology and security cameras. Parks and medians were groomed and beautified. Streets and sidewalks were swept. The city sparkled.
The results speak for themselves. Our guests had a wonderful time in St. Petersburg. I personally visited with delegations from California, North Carolina, Mississippi and Wisconsin, all of whom, without exception, were impressed by our city and vowed to return again in the future. During a traditionally slow week for tourism, and in the face of a tropical storm that might usually have kept people away, our hotels and restaurants were full. St. Petersburg Police and city staff did an outstanding job to ensure the safety of our guests, and I appreciate the long hours and effort extended by our city's personnel.
I wish to thank our residents and business owners for being hospitable hosts, and apologize for any inconvenience. Despite the stormy weather, the Sunshine City lived up to its reputation as one of the greatest cities in America.