Taxpayers won't have to pay the tab for GOP conventionby Marisa Helms, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul City officials say taxpayers won't have to pay a dime in extra costs when the Republican National Convention comes to town in 2008. A non-profit organization raising money to pay for the convention has agreed to cover all the city's costs stemming from the GOP get-together.
St. Paul, Minn. — Ensuring security is one of the biggest costs associated with hosting a national political convention.
St. Paul city officials say they'll be hiring thousands of extra police officers. They estimate the cost of providing police and emergency staff during the four-day convention at around $50 million.
The city won't have to foot that bill, though. St. Paul's Director of Marketing, Erin Dady, says the city expects to receive a federal grant to cover the costs. But if the grant is turned down, Dady says the non-profit organization functioning as the host committee will pick up the tab.
"Now this is a doomsday scenario, because we fully expect the federal government will be a partner in helping us provide security. We expect them to be there for us. But in case they cannot, We have asked the host committee and they have agreed, to cover the costs of the local security," Dady says.
The host committee is co-chaired by investor and publisher, Vance Opperman, and Stanley Hubbard, owner of KSTP television. Aside from the security costs, host committee Interim Director Jeff Larson says the organization is expected to raise between $50 million and $60 million from private sources to cover all the convention costs.
Larson says the group is non-partisan and dedicated to ensuring a successful convention. He says the event is a great opportunity to turn the spotlight on the city.
"We have 15,000 members of the media who are going to be in Minneapolis and St. Paul talking about the life and times of people in Minnesota and what it's like and there's a lot of those people who'll be here for the first time," Larson says. "It's a worldwide opportunity for us to promote the Cities."
The contract between St. Paul and the host committee also holds the committee responsible for $300,000 dollars in non-security costs. The host committee also agrees to pay for police liability insurance, which is expected to cost millions of dollars. St. Paul officials say the insurance is important because other cities have faced lawsuits from activist groups over security measures even years after a convention's conclusion.
The St. Paul City Council is scheduled to vote on the contract at its regular meeting on Wednesday. The host committee is also negotiating contracts with the cities of Minneapolis and Bloomington, as well as with the Xcel Center and Saint Paul RiverCentre. All those agreements should be approved by January 18th. That's when the host committee heads to Washington DC to get final approval from the Republican National Committee.