Commissioners in Florida are recommending a special tax be imposed on President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to help cover the high costs of his frequent visits.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said the president's visits cost more than $60,000 per day, which adds up to almost $2 million since he took office in January, according to The Associated Press. Most of that money is used to pay overtime wages for members of local law enforcement.
Bradshaw added that Trump's recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the resort cost the county approximately $250,000. It was Trump's sixth visit to what he has called his "Winter White House."
County Commissioner Dave Kerner is now talking about turning Mar-a-Lago into a special tax district whereby it would be forced to foot the bill for the president's visits. AP reports that, as a club, Mar-a-Lago pays less property tax than if it were a hotel. And it receives a tax break because Trump surrendered development rights after buying the property in 1985 for $10 million.
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Palm Beach County's attorney office is now looking into whether Kerner's proposal is legally feasible.
"We’re very honored to have the president here, but at the same time, his travel here is such high frequency [that] he’s not visiting Palm Beach County -- he’s governing from it," Kerner said. "Whatever our priorities are, the taxpayers didn't pay this money to us to protect the president."
The federal government has reportedly said it would reimburse the county for Trump's security costs. But local lawmakers are not sure how or when that will happen. A recent phone call with federal officials failed to clarify the matter.
"They were polite, but that’s where they stopped," Commissioner Mary Lou Berger told the Palm Beach Post, according to Tribune Media. "I did not get a lot of encouragement."
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Bradshaw said he spoke directly to Trump about the issue.
"I had a personal conversation with the president in February and he understands," Bradshaw told AP. "There is a system in place and, unfortunately, that involves Congress ... and that is not an easy thing to navigate through. I am sure they will get around to it."
Aside from the cost of securing the president's visits to Mar-a-Lago, there are concerns about a lack of transparency with respect to the people he invites to join him.
On April 10, a federal lawsuit was filed demanding that Trump publish his visitor logs from the White House as well as from his residences in Florida and New York.
In the past, Mar-a-Lago staffers have said they do not keep a detailed visitor logs, something critics say might constitute a serious national security issue.
"If the Secret Service can’t keep track of who has access to the president outside the White House then that’s a national security concern," Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said in March.
Sources: Tribune Media Wire via WGHP, AP via CNBC / Photo credit: Historic American Buildings Survey/Wikimedia Commons