Palm Beach County officials ask for economic impact study of presidential visits

Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 04:27:56-05

On Tuesday, Palm Beach County commissioners discussed the financial impact of President Trump’s frequent visits to the county. 

“What has caught us of guard as Palm Beach County residents is his intent to be here so often,” said County Commissioner Dave Kerner. 

Since his election, Mr Trump has been to Mar-a-Lago three times including over Thanksgiving, Christmas and last weekend. 

Tuesday, the White House confirmed the president will be back in town the coming weekend, playing golf with the Japanese Prime Minister. 

Each time local law enforcement agencies have to help out the Secret Service in making sure the president’s visit goes without incident. That costs money. 

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spent around $250,000 in overtime pay when Mr. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago over Thanksgiving.  

“We’re going to use every tool necessary to seek reimbursement,” County Commissioner Mack Bernard said. 

The sheriff’s office is still tallying up the numbers for the president’s visit over Christmas and last weekend. 

Many are skeptical if the county is going to get reimbursed from the federal government, pointing to Hawaii which did not get federal money for added security during President Obama’s visit to the Aloha State. 

But many are also pointing out the positive impacts of having a sitting president be in the area.

“We’re receiving household hits that we could never achieve,” said County Administrator Verdenia Baker. ”It’s the marketing of Palm Beach County. It’s the visitors.”

Whether those benefits outweigh the costs is still a question, which is why commissioners asked for an economic impact study. 

“What we want to do as a county is figure out what are the costs and what are the benefits,” Bernard said. 

The Lantana Airport is seeing little positive side effects of the president’s visit to the area. Each time President Trump is in Palm Beach County, the airport has to close and it’s having a serious impact on businesses there. 

“Without any accommodation to that airport, it will kill every business there,” Kerner said. “While the county might benefit with overtime pay and things like that, the federal government is certainly not going to help the small business owners.”