The City of Gainesville will not ask the University of Florida to reimburse its cost associated with Richard Spencer’s visit.
City commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to send a formal letter to University of Florida President Kent Fuchs about the bill.
Not everyone agrees with their choice.
“Yes, I do think the University of Florida should pay the Alachua County Sheriff’s department bill that they already received,” said Mary Anderson, who lives in Gainesville and went to Thursday’s meeting where the finances were announced. “And, yes, I do believe the City of Gainesville should also send a bill to the University of Florida.”
A memo by the city’s finance director outlined the full cost to the city: $224,105.
The money included overtime hours paid to the Gainesville Police Department, public works department, and Gainesville Fire and Rescue.
UF’s decision to allow Spencer a space to speak in October required extra security.
“Spencer should have paid more,” Anderson said, “and the University of Florida should pay the entire bill.”
Commissioner Harvey Ward said a cost like that could not be ignored.
“This is a real thing — and we love all the other stuff (the University does) — but this is a real thing and it is a potential issue for us because we just don’t have $224,000 falling out of the sky,” said Ward.
The city’s relationship with UF was considered before making the decision.
“I, at least, wanted to offer that the partnership is fantastic and growing and going into many, many wonderful directions,” city manager Anthony Lyons said.
Relationship aside, commissioners agreed the bill needed to be acknowledged.
“I would hope,” Ward said, “that nobody would be offended by us memorializing how much it cost us.”
Alachua County sent its bill of $302,184 to the university earlier this month and expects to be paid. County spokesman Mark Sexton on Thursday said the county commission had not yet received a response.
“I don’t think we need to ask for payment,” said Mayor Lauren Poe “We are not going to get it anyway.”
“University administration is reviewing the request from Alachua County and will determine how to proceed,” UF spokeswoman Margot Winick said.
The university itself has still not disclosed its cost stemming from the speech, citing a state law exemption passed in 2017 that blocks the release of information related to campus emergency response. The law, however, does not include the words “cost” or “financial” in specifying what information can’t be released.
The total cost from each agency who contributed to security totals $793,028 so far: