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Will St. Pete Be Reimbursed for RNC Security?

While $270,000 for security cameras will be reimbursed, there is no guarantee about other RNC security expenditures, the Council learns.

On Thursday City Councilors voiced their displeasure with the unknown security costs that will be associated with Tropicana Field hosting on Aug. 26.

Starting that weekend, the  along the perimeter of the Trop. Anything outside that perimeter is the responsibility of the city.

The city has for the event, though the city's legal team said the U.S. Department of Justice and City of Tampa will reimburse St. Pete for that expense. 

Expenses not associated with the cameras, such as overtime for police, firefighters and other city employees, are still up in the air, according to deputy city attorney Mark Winn. 

"They may or may not be reimbursible," he said. 

Congress, Winn said, has approved a $50 million grant for security for the RNC in Tampa. All reimbursements for Tampa and St. Pete have to come out of that fund. 

Winn said St. Pete is still negotiating with Tampa to get reimbursements for those expenditures. Some police costs have been submitted, but are still waiting Tampa's approval. 

Last week, the city  that regulates what you can carry, where you can go and in some cases what you can wear inside that zone.

At Thursday's agenda review session, Council member Jim Kennedy said he was hesitant moving forward with an ordinance where expenses have not been settled. He asked the legal team what would happen should the city not go forward with the ordinance.

"If we were concerned about that, and if we voted 'No' on the clean zone ordinance, would that then protect us from incurring costs that we may not want to incur?" Kennedy asked. 

City Attorney John Wolfe said the city does not have much of a choice. The "Event Zone," he said, isn't so much an RNC requirement but a necessary measure to protect St. Pete residents, property and businesses. 

"It’s really to protect the city, the (city's) assets and the property owners," Wolfe said.  

Winn said that while he expects most protesters to be peaceful and not destroy property, history shows there has been unrest and upheaval.

A majority of protesters are peaceful, however, there’s traditionally a small percentage of people who do intend to create damage, Winn said. 

"Basicllay you’re saying we need to do this for self-preservation," Kennedy said. "That we really have no choice in the matter."

City Administrator Tish Elston, who was sitting in for Mayor Bill Foster Thursday, said Foster would not approve events that the city had no chance of reimbursement. 

"From the onset the mayor has always been told we'd get reimbursed," she said. "We are not interested in having events that can’t be reimbursed."

Council member Steve Kornell said he understands the need, but feels that city is being led down a path without much control.

"I’d really like to see some movement on this," Kornell said. "This is a big event, and I (don't) think people are assuming we’d pull the plug. However, I also don’t like that we are kind of being shuffled around.

"I hope discussions move along rapidly, because I dislike the idea of voting on something that I don’t know how much it is going to cost," he added. "It’s a difficult situation we are being put in. I hope those discussions move rapidly. That back and forth is fine, just get it resolved." 

Council member Wengay Newton that the more than seven square miles of zone was unnecessary after the kick-off party. While the party is on Aug. 26, the event zone runs through Aug. 30 because other unannounced delegate/media events are expected at various St. Pete locations.

Winn, however, said police want to keep the zone in place for the duration of the RNC week because of those additional events. 

A final reading of the ordinance for the creation of the “Event Zone” is scheduled for Aug. 2.

Dharma July 28, 2012 at 03:13 AM
am not the least bit conflicted here, pay up front. and then no tax payers money goes into anything like a party trying to achieve a goal. we pay enough for these people. when in office. enough. smile
Dharma July 28, 2012 at 03:20 AM
CJ. Of course I know what goes on here in this country, I live here. I pay taxes. As to 911 I absolutely feel its time to recognize that was a horrendous time, but its not each day. And being wise doesn’t mean being terrified or horrified. Being alert and taking responsible care makes perfect sense. I am not sure why you or anyone would expect that terrorist would be at the convention for these people. My orginal response is about not being put out for a visiting group of people coming here.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 04:42 AM
''Of course I know what goes on here in this country'' No , Dharma, you don't. Like anyone that reads The Patch, I read comments from people that I may not agree with here and there...but never has anyone quite hit a nerve like you did with your 911 comments. Frankly, I am surprised there are not more people on your back right now. This is from the St Pete Times TODAY: Quote: The head of al Qarda anounced he is ready to stat attacks back up on the US. He also threatened the U.S. by saying "you will see them [al Qaeda militants] at the heart of your country with God's willing, since our war against you has just started." You really don't get it..do you? The world awaits the first use of a nuke in a terrorist attack. Wherer will it be we all wonder? Why can't you see that day is fast approaching, ''somewhere''. Even if you are old, you have a good chance to be around when it happens. You are a fool if you don't see it ''could'' happen here. The 3000 or so dead from 911 ''are nothing''. What the terrosits ''strive, eat, live and breathe for..is that magic number...''the million kill''. When that days comes, people like you with a mouth like you have may get lynched if they spout off things like you do. You should be ashamed of your lack of knowledge about the threats our nation and other places in the world have to fear...and also your lack of remembering dreadful history surrounding political conventions, olympics, sports venues, etc, etc, etc.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Dharma, I want to clarify that your remarks about what a waste of money this all is do not annoy me. I think most would agree with you generally on this, but please realize that the saying, ''you have to spend money to make money'' applies here. It is true that it is questionable if St Pete can recoup the expenses for an event this big...but it probably will. The RNC is, for the most part, a necessary evil...and so is the DNC....but this is what we do to during presidential elections. I don't see that stopping...but it certainly would be good to see less money spoent on these affairs when our economy is in the shape it is. What's new about all levels and forms of government wasting money? The point is, the RNC ''is'' going to happen here...and the Tampa/St Pete Area can't sit back like this is a County Fair, and have to protect the important people that will be here..and not ''invite'' trouble of the caliber that could threaten all of us that live here.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 05:03 AM
If they won't give us a handout...then maybe we could charge toll on all roads '' leading to'' St Pete...but not back to Tampa...lol! They don't have an easy way to get to some of the best spots on the beach without going through us first !

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