ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The federal government has approved St. Paul's application for a $50 million grant to provide security for the 2008 Republican National Convention.
In a letter dated July 22, the Department of Justice approved the request, as expected. A related budget is expected to go before the City Council for approval Wednesday.
The approval details expenses categorically, not specific purchases. The biggest outlay is for $34 million in "contractual obligations," which goes toward law-enforcement personnel.
The St. Paul Police Department is in the final stages of securing joint powers agreements with a host of Minnesota law-enforcement agencies and hopes to line up 3,000 to 3,500 officers. St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said those officers will be paid overtime for working the convention.
Last year, the City Council approved the $50 million expenditure as part of the 2008 city budget.
The figure matches what has been awarded to Denver for hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention and what was awarded to New York for hosting the GOP's convention in 2004. Boston staged the 2004 Democratic convention with a $33 million security grant.
In Boston, officials showcased a host of new equipment prior to the convention -- everything from biohazard suits and detection equipment to a harbor patrol boat equipped with underwater cameras. St. Paul has made no such announcements.
In fact, its budget for new equipment appears relatively modest compared with
the $34 million in "contractual obligations" and another $4.5 million listed for "personnel."
Just $4.6 million is expected to be spent on new equipment, less than the $5.1 million the city expects to spend on "supplies."
The rest of the expenditures include $1.6 million for "indirect costs," which Walsh said includes money for such things as renting space for an RNC communications center. Another $79,000 is being spent on travel and $66,000 on "fringe benefits."
The money comes with restrictions and will be audited by the Justice Department after the convention closes. Any procurement over $100,000, for example, must get prior approval from the Justice Department.
Walsh declined to offer a detailed account of expenditures. He predicted a line-by-line budget would be made available.
"I would imagine, but I would imagine that it wouldn't be until after the event," Walsh said.