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Huntington foots $20K bill for Trump visit


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Last week’s visit by President Donald Trump left Huntington with an extra $20,700 in personnel costs, though city officials hope to recuperate the money one way or another.

The Aug. 3 rally brought out thousands of Trump supporters, filling the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, which holds 9,000, and leaving hundreds more supporters and protesters outside as Trump gave a speech on his administration’s accomplishments and what promises he hopes to fulfill in the future.

President Donald Trump steps out of Air Force One and greets the press after landing at Huntington Tri-State Airport on Aug. 3.
(Photo by Bishop Nash)

The $20,700 invoice that will be billed to the Trump campaign organization comes from a combination of security, fire protection and various other jobs requested by the Secret Service and filled with city employees, said Bryan Chambers, communications director for the city.

Even if the bill goes unpaid, Chambers said the city will recuperate much of the money lost with hotel and business taxes gained during a weeklong economic spark the city experienced in welcoming visitors and presidential staff who were in the city prior to the event for planning.

The majority of the costs stem from $12,600 in overtime for 69 Huntington police officers on duty inside and outside of the arena. The 69 officers account for 63 percent of the city’s police force.

Along with the Huntington Police Department, several other police agencies from Cabell and Wayne counties helped with the presidential motorcade and security around the facility, but were not included in the cost billed by the city.

“If you want to get a full cost of this, you definitely need to call them as well,” he said. “It wasn’t just the city of Huntington that provided support for this event.”

The Public Works department had 24 employees on scene, with 18 working security detail and six on barricades, for a total of $6,000 of work for that department. While Chambers declined to comment on specific duties performed by the Public Works department, several garbage and dump trucks were seen parked along one side of the arena during the event.

Ten Huntington firefighters were also on hand for hazard response and fire protection, costing the department $2,100.

The Big Sandy Superstore Arena will bill $8,800 for indoor security costs, with the city requesting the remaining $11,900. Chambers said the city “will just have to wait to see what happens” once the money is requested, but nonetheless, the staffing was an important duty.

The reimbursement request is not unusual for cities that have picked up the bill for Trump and some of his 2016 opponents.

In January, city officials in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said the campaign organizations of Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had not paid for police protection bills totaling $24,000 altogether. In July, the TV station WKBN reported that Youngstown, Ohio, Police Chief Robin Lees said Trump’s campaign would be billed for substantial security costs during a visit in late July, but the city was not optimistic about being paid. In more than 11 political campaign visits to the town in 2016, only one group had paid for the cost, WKBN reports.

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