The City of Montpelier will seek voluntary reimbursement from Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign for costs associated with his Statehouse rally on Saturday afternoon. It's Sanders' first major Vermont event since he launched his second bid for the White House and is expected to draw a yooooge crowd.
According to assistant city manager Sue Allen, the move is a first for the capital city, which has previously absorbed the costs of police, firefighters, traffic control and site cleanup for any event in town.
On Wednesday, the Montpelier City Council directed municipal staff to pull together cost figures after the rally and send a letter to the Sanders campaign requesting a donation to cover the cost.
"We love hosting events," Allen said. "They make Montpelier vibrant. But we do want to keep track of what all this vibrancy is costing us."
The council also asked staff to develop a formal policy for seeking reimbursement from event organizers in the future.
Councilor Ashley Hill, a two-time Democratic candidate for state Senate, said that she was the one who raised the issue. "I love that Bernie is our senator and I'm super stoked he's coming here," she said, "but when I heard how many police officers, firefighters and EMTs we'd need, I realized it was a significant expense. It's fundamentally unfair for the taxpayers of Montpelier to shoulder that burden alone."
Allen could offer no estimate for the potential cost of the Sanders rally. "Each [city] department has been asked to compile expenses as soon as possible after the rally," she said.
When asked if the Sanders campaign would reimburse Montpelier, spokesperson Arianna Jones replied with an effusively noncommittal email.
"The senator is looking forward to the Montpelier rally," she wrote. "It’s an opportunity for him to thank the citizens of Vermont for allowing him to represent their great state and ask for their support in 2020 — and a moment Vermont will look back on with pride when he’s in the White House. We'll work with the capital city to ensure a great event."