The Trump campaign arrived in Bemidji in the early evening hours for a speech at the Bemidji Regional Airport. The work for local officials, though, started many days and hours earlier.
Leading up to the rally, the Bemidji Police Department and other city officials worked directly with campaign staff and federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, on logistics. On the day of the event, personnel on hand for the city included staff from both the Police Department and the Public Works Department.
In the lead-up to the rally, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin called it “the largest scale event that we have had to plan for.”
With the rally now in the rearview, City Finance Director Ron Eischens said exact costs haven’t been calculated, but estimates have been made.
“We don’t keep track of time on specific things like that, but we have tried to ballpark the overtime costs related to that event as best we could,” Eischens said. “From a Public Works perspective, we had about $1,500 worth of overtime costs. Then, for the police department, we had an estimated $7,200 in overtime.”
President Donald Trump speaks to thousands at Bemidji Aviation Services on Friday during a stop on his “Great American Comeback” tour. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
While the campaign visit wasn’t expected, and therefore not budgeted, Eischens said the estimated $8,700 is within the financial ability of the city’s budget.
“Each department has overtime budgeted for the year,” Eischens said. “This event isn’t a normal one, but it’s within the departmental budgets to absorb that cost without dipping into city reserves. If the cost had been significant, if we’re talking, say, $100,000 that wasn’t budgeted, then it would be something for the reserves.”
Eischens noted that city staff were just some of the many agency personnel with a presence in Bemidji during the event. Before the rally, the city approved a mutual aid agreement, allowing regional law enforcement agencies to assist the Bemidji Police Department. Other agencies included the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol.
“It’s important to point out, though, that this is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to the cost of the event,” Eischens said.