Charlotte mayor lobbies DNC for $55M in convention funds

The Charlotte ObserverJuly 20, 2011 

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said he's confident the city will get $55 million in security funds for the Democratic National Convention, but the impasse in Congress over the debt ceiling concerns him.

Foxx and the mayor of Tampa, which is hosting the Republican National Convention, were in Washington, D.C., last week lobbying Congress for the money.

When asked what would happen if Charlotte didn't receive the money, Foxx said: "We don't contemplate not getting it."

The main cost of holding the August 2012 convention - upward of $40 million - will be paid by private donors. But security costs, which include new surveillance equipment and police overtime, is expected to be paid for by the federal government.

Foxx said he expects the city to have between 2,400 and 3,400 additional officers, which will come from other cities.

"What's different is we have the debt ceiling debate," Foxx said.

Foxx said there is no impending deadline for getting the money. Boston, which hosted the 2004 Democratic convention, received the money a year before the event. Denver, which hosted in 2008, received the money in May before the late summer convention.

President Barack Obama is locked in a battle of wills with Congressional Republicans over how much to cut the federal deficit in order to raise the debt ceiling.

In his biweekly press conference, Foxx also addressed Monday's scheduled vote on whether to fully fund the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The CRVA has requested $10 million for the fiscal year 2012, but the City Council has so far only allocated $2.5 million.

Foxx and seven council members have voted to withhold the money, saying they want more information from the CRVA board as to how it will improve management.

The CRVA has released a schedule of when it will make improvements, but Foxx has said he wants more detail.

Foxx on Tuesday said the CRVA's attendance projections on the NASCAR Hall of Fame might have influenced the city's decision to build the racing shrine. The hall's first-year attendance was one-third of what was projected, and May and June 2011 attendance is down more than 30percent from 2010.

"We might have made a different calculus as to how much to invest in that facility," Foxx said.

Foxx has been critical of CRVA Chief Executive Tim Newman. In Tuesday's press conference, Foxx was asked whether he thought the CRVA board should make a change.

"I'll stand by what I have said on that," Foxx said.

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