Business owners and residents in West Palm Beach, where President Donald Trump’s favorite Mar-a-Lago resort is, are concerned the president’s frequent visits are costing them big time.
The president touted throughout his presidential campaign that he would improve economic conditions for the people, but seems like his visits are doing the opposite for people and businesses that surround his “Winter White House.”
Just a month and a half into his presidency, Trump has already made four visits to his resort and its cost hundreds of thousands to local businesses. For the locals, it means blocked roads and strict security protocols.
The Secret Service grounds planes at Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, nine miles south of Mar-a-Lago, where much of the business is conducted on weekends. According to The New York Times, that amounts to 250 flights grounded every day. It also means parachute jumping, flight lessons ($14,000 worth of them), banner advertising or helicopter trips are canceled that day. During a four-day visit, the airport lost as much as $200,000 in fuel sales.
“It’s a very busy airport with a lot of small-business men trying to make a living,” said Bruce Pelly, the airport director. “You got flight training, aeronautics, a propeller shop, paint shops, maintenance companies. You got all kinds of businesses going on down there. We are obviously trying whatever we can to get that airport functioning in some form or fashion.”
Pelly said he had “offered everything we can think of” to make the airport safe but the Secret Services always replies with a “no.”
Jonathan Miller, the president of Stellar Aviation Group, who is losing $30,000 each weekend, is worried his business will go bankrupt if Trump keeps visiting the club with the same frequency.
Dave Johnson, the owner of Palm Beach Aircraft Services, which operates and maintains private aircrafts, said, he provides transportation for lawyers, doctors and other professionals who travel across the country for work. But because of Trump’s continued visits, no private flights can take off within a 10-mile radius and arriving flights have to stop somewhere else for security clearance, so now Johnson’s clients are moving their aircrafts to other airports.
A spokesperson of Southern Helicopters said his choppers were also grounded and they were “basically going broke.”
Jorge Gonzalex, owner of SkyWords Advertising, said he lost $42,000 because of Trump’s visit during which his banner-advertising planes could not take off. Now, he believes he will have to shut down his business in just a month.
A new restaurant near the club lost 75 customers in a night.
The president’s visits are also costing taxpayers. Overtime for police officials and other security measures cost $60,000 a day and so far have cost taxpayers $1.7 million.
Paulette Burdick, mayor of Palm Beach, said, “We've written a letter to the federal government, asking for the reimbursement for the sheriff for the impacts but as of today, we haven't heard back.”
Unhappy with Trump going to #MaraLago every weekend? You can now call the resort at (561) 832-2600. Operators will be happy to help!— Green Bowling (@ShomahKhoobi) March 6, 2017
Glad to see that my tax money is supporting weekly Palm Beach estate visits. #MaraLago— JEG (@jeg_28) March 4, 2017
In his first month, Trump has cost taxpayers almost $10 million, according to The Washington Post. Former President Obama travel costs during his eight years in office totaled to about $97 million, so if Trump does not rein in his expenses, he’ll outspend Obama in less than a year.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Pierre Albouy