Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 30, 2012

Officials not expecting reimbursement for hosting G-8 summit

THURMONT (AP) — More than six months after President Barack Obama and seven other world leaders converged on Camp David for the G-8 summit, local officials appear to hold out little hope that taxpayers might ever recoup the cost of preparing for and hosting the event.

“Are we expecting it? Not necessarily now,” Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns said. “If we were, we should have been paid by now, but we’re about to go over a fiscal cliff here.”

Obama’s announcement in March that the event would move from Chicago to Camp David near Thurmont sent local officials scrambling to plan for the unknown. Previous summits in other cities have attracted massive protests.

The relative seclusion of Camp David meant that officials couldn’t pinpoint where protesters might set up shop, or if they would. Local law enforcement agencies said they were monitoring the Internet for clues in the weeks and months running up to the event.

The two-day event in May came and went with few problems, though several hundred protesters turned out peacefully in Thurmont. The White House during the summit said it would look into reimbursement after Rep. Roscoe Bartlett sent a letter requesting assistance. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins at that time said it was unfair that Chicago would receive up to $40 million to host the NATO summit.

The White House referred additional requests for information to the U.S. Secret Service.

The Secret Service does not have a funding mechanism to reimburse local officials for their expenditures, spokes-man Max Milien said.

Several officials, including Burns, Frederick Police Department Lt. Dennis Dudley and Mayor Randy McClement said the Secret Service told them in March not to expect federal assistance.

The G-8 cost the city of Frederick $60,189.39, McClement said. A financial breakdown provided by the city — used to track expenses in the event of reimbursement — showed that $44,296.84 of that total was for police.

“The feds did not declare the event a National Special Security Event,” McClement said in an email Thursday. “Without that declaration, there is no possibility of reimbursement.”

Maryland Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ed McDonough also said in an email Thursday that the office was advised by the Secret Service not to expect reimbursement because “all of the state and local operations were being done at their own discretion and not at the direction of the Secret Service.”

Bartlett said neither his letter to the White House nor a subsequent email or phone call received a response.

“Since we had security expenses, we felt that we ought to be included,” Bartlett said. “Of course, the president’s from Chicago.”

Burns said that Thurmont had initially expected that the town would spend about $20,000 around the G-8.

It wound up spending about $6,000, he said. He said he’s been working with Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office to try to recoup funds.

Mikulski spokeswoman Rachel MacKnight said Thursday that the senator’s state director is working with the county’s emergency management staff to identify a “workable option” for the county, including grants.

Jack Markey, the county’s emergency management director, could not be reached for further comment.

Burns said that if any local entities should receive reimbursement, Thurmont should, because it was the nexus of activity.

The town could not “just ignore” the G-8, he said — it had to prepare for the worst in the event that something happened.

“If the federal government thinks that it’s OK just throwing bills out in this economic climate, it’s not OK,” Burns said.

Jenkins said the sheriff’s office had spent a little more than $70,000 on the summit, including equipment purchases, but said the financial burden to the office was not one of a hardship because it has a surplus.

“To me, it’s the cost of doing business,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he had long since moved on from the G-8 and has no expectation that Mikulski’s office will be able to help in the end.

“I don’t expect any money,” Jenkins said. “There’s no money anywhere. I just don’t think they’re going to be able to find it.”

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