A week after City Council President Tommy Hazouri sent a memo with questions to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s office about the Republican National Convention, News4Jax has received a list of answers.
Hazouri asked Curry for a breakdown of the total estimates costs of hosting the RNC, and he asked who will be covering the costs. According to an emailed response from Brian Hughes, the mayor’s chief administrative officer, the budget for the city will be made to match the funding authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice via federal grant.
Hughes said the amount has not been finalized, but that it’s projected to be $30-$40 million in federal grant money. He said he was not aware of any upfront costs that the city might have to front.
Hazouri also asked if there was a cap on the amount of funding that the RNC or other parties will put toward the event. Hughes replied that the cap is the amount of the DOJ grant and that budgets for the events are the responsibility of the Host Committee and the partners.
There was also a question about whether attendees of the RNC would be required to wear masks, to which the response was: “The current mask order requires individuals who are unable to practice social distancing to wear a mask.”
Look below for the full list of questions and answers:
1. Will there be any legislation related to the RNC in order for the City to host this event?
a. If so, what is the timeline for any upcoming legislation of when it will come to the City Council for consideration?
Answer: ASAP. I believe OGC notified you that they are working through possible legislation now. I am led to believe they may have some drafts next week.
b. If not, why wouldn’t at least an appropriation bill be required?
Answer: I believe it will include language that considers the city’s appropriation of federal grant dollars for public safety.
2. Will the City have an agreement with the RNC or other parties?
Answer: The city, through our venue managers at ASM Global, will have rental/use agreements with a third party for entertainment venues. I am uncertain what entity will be a party, but it may be the 2020 Host Committee.
a. If so, will the agreement(s) require City Council approval?
Answer: I don’t believe that is a requirement under our ordinance but I propose OGC is better equipped to answer.
b. If the City has executed any agreements related to the RNC, please provide copies.
Answer: The Administration has no agreements at this time, and I am unaware of any City department having any such agreement now.
3. What is the total estimated cost to host the RNC and who will be covering these costs?
Answer: The budget for the city will be made to match the funding authorized by the US Dept of Justice via federal grant. The amount is not yet finalized, although a projection is approximately $30 to $40 million in federal grant money.
4. With the City receiving National Special Security Event (NSSE) designation for the RNC, what does this mean from a funding standpoint and how will this funding process work?
Answer: This designation activates and allows for the use of many federal law enforcement resources to lessen the public safety burden on local jurisdictions.
5. Will the City have to front any costs?
Answer: I am not aware of any upfront costs at this time. Our expectation is the federal grant will be conveyed and used by the city to handle public safety expenses.
a. If the City has to front any costs, what will be the funding source for these costs?
Answer: At this time I don’t think this is applicable
b. If the City has to front any costs, what is the timetable for the City being reimbursed and is there a risk that the City may not be reimbursed for all costs?
Answer: At this time I don’t think this is applicable.
c. If the City does not have to front any of the costs, when will the funding be sent to the City and when will the City Council need to consider the appropriation of these dollars?
Answer: See earlier discussion of legislation.
6. Is there a cap on the amount of funding that the RNC or other parties will put towards this event? If so, who is responsible for costs if the cap is exceeded?
Answer: The city’s cap is the amount of the DOJ grant. Budgets for the events are the responsibility of the Host Committee and their partners.
7. Has the City expended any funds to date related to the RNC?
Answer: I am unaware of any expenditures, and CFO Grieve shares the same opinion.
a. If so, how much?
Answer: At this time, not applicable.
b. If so, where have the funds been expended from?
Answer: At this time, not applicable.
8. If the City expends funds related to the RNC and the event is canceled, will the City be able to recover any of these costs? Please explain the basis for the answer.
Answer: I am unaware of any plan to expend COJ dollars without having reimbursement in place. DOJ has committed that approved grant expenditures would not require return of funds to DOJ, even if the event was cancelled.
9. How is the City going to be tracking costs related to hosting the event?
Answer: All expenditures will be tracked in a specific account managed by CFO Grieve and his team.
10. If the mandate for wearing masks is still in place, will the participants attending the RNC be required to wear masks?
Answer: The current mask order requires individuals who are unable to practice social distancing to wear a mask.