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Trump's Fargo rally cost local taxpayers over $104,000

President Donald Trump enters Scheels Arena in Fargo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — More than $104,000 was spent to provide security and control crowds and traffic during President Donald Trump's June 27 campaign visit to Fargo, all of which will come out of the pockets of local taxpayers, officials said.

The estimated total of $104,528.22 is similar to the Trump rally held June 20 in Duluth, Minn., where about $90,000 was reportedly spent by the city and St. Louis County for that event.

The Fargo Police Department and North Dakota Highway Patrol had the biggest bills for security at Scheels Arena and along the presidential motorcade route.

The Highway Patrol had 58 troopers involved, said Maj. Aaron Hummel. The agency spent about $46,500 for wages, travel time, vehicle mileage and lodging for troopers brought in from around the state.

Fargo police had 75 officers and two civilian employees involved in planning, gathering intelligence, and operations. They worked 835.25 hours of regular time ($30,020.24) and 24.75 hours of overtime ($1,127.34) for a total cost of $31,147.58, Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said.

None of the agencies involved plan to charge either the Trump campaign or the city of Fargo for their costs, officials said.

General safety, national exposure and the goodwill of a sitting president are cited for swallowing the costs. "We have to provide protection, and we have to make sure everyone is safe," Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said.

Before the rally, Mahoney asked Police Chief David Todd to tally his department's costs to get a better idea of the amounts needed for future city budgets.

The Senate race between Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is a key contest for control of the Senate, so Mahoney said it's possible the president could stop in Fargo again to boost Cramer.

"I just see it as one of the extraordinary things that happen in our community. We have (ESPN's College) GameDay in town; you don't always expect that. But if the Bison are doing well, that's what happens," Mahoney said.

Big events raise Fargo's national profile, Mahoney said. And if you're trying to build a $2.1 billion Red River flood diversion channel, it doesn't hurt to have the president on your side.

"It seems he likes Fargo and he likes the state. So, you would hope that would carry over (to the) quest for money for the diversion," the mayor said. "It's a different type of wall, but it's flood protection for us."

The Fargo Street Department had 23 staff members on duty, Director of Operations Ben Dow said. About $3,498.38 of mostly overtime was paid to 17 staff members, while six other staffers took time off worth about $1,074, Dow said. Vehicles were also supplied to block streets and intersections.

Several other agencies also pitched in:

  • The West Fargo Police Department supplied 22 officers for the event at an estimated cost of $6,299.50. The department said 54.25 hours of regular time was worth about $1,605.26, and 105.75 hours of overtime came to $4,694.24.
  • The Moorhead Police Department supplied 12 officers, including a SWAT team member and a bomb technician. Moorhead paid about $400 in regular time wages and $3,750 in overtime for the event for a total of $4,150.
  • The North Dakota Department of Transportation had 15 people involved, driving dump trucks to block intersections and placing barricades. Those expenses came to about $4,100, DOT spokeswoman Jamie Olson said.
  • The Clay County Sheriff's Office paid eight deputies $2,976.20 in overtime, and one deputy worked $383.30 of regular time for a total of $3,359.50, Lt. Mark Empting said.
  • Cass County Sheriff's Office estimated $3,500 in personnel costs, Sgt. Tim Briggeman said.
  • Four North Dakota State University Police Department officers worked 31.5 hours for the event. The mix of straight time and overtime totalled $909.26, NDSU reported.
  • The 119th Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard supplied security for Air Force One and other presidential aircraft that landed at Fargo's Hector International Airport.
Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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