District taxpayers shelled out more than half-a-million dollars for Mayor Vincent Gray's One City Summit, a Feb. 11 gathering the mayor hailed as vital to D.C.'s future and Republicans lampooned as a political gambit, a city document shows.
Private donations helped to bring the summit's cost under the $600,000 mark that city officials had long projected for the meeting.
In a final itemized budget released to The Washington Examiner, the city said it spent $556,603.79 after private contributions reduced the cost of the event by $51,000.
|Where the money went|
|Electrical power: $50,286|
|Phone and Internet: $8,066.67|
|Room rentals: $12,375|
|Translation services: $2,780|
|Total cost: $607,603.79|
|Final cost to taxpayers: $556,603.79|
The city paid AmericaSpeaks, the District-based nonprofit that facilitated the daylong meeting, almost $480,000, about 5 percent more than agreed upon in its original contract. Pedro Ribeiro, a mayoral spokesman, said D.C. paid the extra money -- about $22,000 -- because the meeting attracted about 1,700 participants. Event organizers anticipated 1,000 attendees when they signed the AmericaSpeaks contract.
Gray's office said it was pleased with the summit's final cost.
"We've always said this was going to come in right around this mark," Ribeiro said. "We've met our budget as we promised."
Republican partisans weren't as enthralled.
"The cost of this thing is outrageous," said Bob Kabel, the chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee. "That money could have been used for a lot of other things."
Kabel also dismissed the event as a purely political gathering.
"It amounted to a daylong soundbite," he said. "There are so many ways for the mayor to show leadership."
The day, though, could have been more expensive.
Individual and corporate donors helped to offset $51,000 in expenses -- including the entire lunch bill of almost $41,000 -- associated with the meeting.
A roster of donors provided by the city showed Carefirst, the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C. and FedEx each gave $10,000, the most of any contributors. Five other companies and a trade union combined to chip in another $20,000. The listing also showed an individual donor contributed $1,000.
Gray had long hoped to secure private funding but had vowed to hold the meeting regardless.
"Hopefully, we will be successful in getting offsetting private contributions, but if not, I'm prepared to go ahead with this," Gray said on Feb. 11. "This is something we will look to our budget for, to be able to facilitate."
The city says its share of the bill will be paid using money D.C. saved after securing a lower bond interest rate and funds from accounts where spending came in under budget.