In the nearly three months since presidential candidates and their high-profile surrogates came to the area, officials from most Lower Bucks County municipalities they visited report that the costs were either relatively inconsequential or almost nonexistent.
During the 2016 campaign season, Vice President Joe Biden gave speeches at the Bristol Bucks County Community College campus and the Snyder-Girotti Elementary School in Bristol Borough. President-elect Donald Trump went to Newtown to speak at the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) and Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine spoke at the Newtown campus of Bucks County Community College.
The biggest cost for local campaign visits came out of Newtown Township. According to the Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, the township incurred costs of $19,230 for Trump’s packed October visit to the NAC and between $4,000 and $5,000 for Kaine’s October visit to the Newtown Bucks County Community College campus.
The police and emergency service detail was large for Trump’s rally at the NAC and included SWAT operators from several towns, patrol officers and detectives from several surrounding communities and members of the county-wide Major Incident Response Team. The higher security was due to the fact that Trump was a presidential candidate and often drew protesters and other security challenges at his campaign venues.
Discussing how to proceed with these costs at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, the Newtown Township supervisors were split on how to proceed. Some members of the board wanted to bill the NAC for the costs, while others suggested billing the campaigns.
“I just don’t think it is fair to stick the taxpayers with this expense,” said Supervisor Jennifer Dix. She suggested billing the NAC, which is owned by Trump supporter Jim Worthington, due to the large amount of money owed due to police and EMS services of the visits.
Supervisor Chairman Kyle Davis had similar thoughts but felt the Clinton and Trump campaigns should be billed.
Billing the campaigns is an unlikely answer due to the unlikelihood of them responding, as they have done in the past.
The Newtown Board of Supervisors was unable to reach a consensus on how to proceed with the incurred expenses.
While Newtown Township was stuck with a large chunk of the costs for the two high-profile visits, other Lower Bucks County Communities found their costs much easier to bear.
For Biden’s campaign stop at the Bristol Township campus of Bucks County Community College, the township did not incur significant cost and its Council has not made any motions to bill the campaigns. Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito said his department did not see any additional costs aside from their daytime normal staffing fess. The public safety director was not available to comment on any possible costs from the police department.
For Biden’s Bristol Borough visit to the school to campaign for Clinton, neither the borough itself or the school district incurred any type of significant cost, according to officials from the government bodies. Chris McHugh, business manager for the school district, said on Friday that the school did not accrue any security costs during the vice president’s visit.
The costs for Biden’s speech in the borough and quick trip to Clinton’s Mill Street campaign headquarters after his early October speech in Bristol Township were not significant and that the campaign had not reimbursed the town for any costs it might have incurred, said Jim Dillon, the manager for the borough. There was also no cost to the borough when former President Bill Clinton stopped at his wife’s Mill Street campaign office, Dillon added.
The cost of personal security for the candidates, former President Clinton and Biden fell to the Secret Service who worked with other federal agencies and state and local police.