Steve DiGioia

Kamala Harris’ Visit: A Strain on the Finances of the City and the County 

Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit might end up causing Horry County a hefty amount for emergency service and protection.

Kamala Harris visited the Hilton Myrtle Beach on Jan 6 to give a speech at the annual retreat of the Women’s Missionary Society. The annual retreat is a key organization in the Seventh Episcopal District of the AME church which preaches spirituality along with community service.

She made the speech on the third anniversary of Capitol Riot and talked about strengthening leadership as she’s also running up for president.

Her presence at the Church was short but might cost thousands of dollars for law enforcement and emergency protection as the arrangements cost was not pre-planned by the city of Myrtle Beach and Horry County.

The information about her visit’s cost is not available to the county, therefore the Sun News has requested it through a Freedom of Information Act.

Her Short Visit 

Her visit to the Beach was short which lasted for about 2 hours since her arrival at the International Airport at 12 and her speech starting at 1:30 with her travelling back to Washington D.C. after 2.

Her visit might be short, but it affected the city transport. Her visit led to the shutdown of highways mainly Highway 17 along with side roads for no delay in her transport. Shutting of transport leads to a traffic situation along with other problems.

For her security, 52 Horry County Police personnel were deployed according to Mikayla Moskov, county spokesperson. The Myrtle Beach personnel count is unknown.

Why the Issue of High Cost?

The salary of a patrol officer is up to $49,000 according to the county and of a police officer $60,174. Her visit has cost a large amount on her security.

As security, the president, vice president and the First Lady travel in military aircraft and transport provided by the U.S. Secret Service along with the law enforcement and emergency services provided by the cities for public safety at the request of the Secret Service. 

Such high security is provided because of their high personality which might attract unwanted attention from their enemies.

 According to the Congressional Research Service, any cost trip made by the personality for an official function is paid for by the government but not for any personal or unofficial purpose. The official has to pay out of their own expense and compensate for any commercial expense to the state government.

The policy, however, does not talk about compensation to the city or county governments. 

Even though her visit didn’t sound like a campaign, some noted the visit close to the S.C. Democratic presidential primary due Feb 3. The city did not respond to any questions regarding the compensation.

It is a matter of concern as visits like these tend to affect the finances of the cities and they usually don’t get the compensation which costs the taxpayers.

President Trump’s visit to Lebanon, Ohio, in 2019 cost the city $16,191 as a safety expense but was never compensated by the government. The report was from the Center for Public Integrity.

Earlier Visits

Based on news reports, a president’s or vice president’s visit to a town or city costs nearly $5000 to $10,000. Keeping the expense in mind, Myrtle Beach has recently seen an influx of presidential speeches.

Four presidents have already visited the city since last March. The expenses of the earlier visit and another added by Kamala Harris’ visit, might add to the financial strain even more.

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