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Monday, September 20, 2021

UF pays Alachua County $67,000 for Richard Spencer event

<p>Richard Spencer</p>

Richard Spencer

After accidentally sending Alachua County an incorrect payment for Richard Spencer’s event, UF has reimbursed the county with a $67,461.11 check.

University spokesperson Margot Winick said the updated payment covers the cost of food and lodging for law enforcement officers incurred by the county. Law enforcement officers from 62 agencies assisted, Winick said.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and UF have a mutual aid agreement in which the two have agreed to share law enforcement officers in certain cases, but it does not require payment for those support services. Winick said UF wanted to compensate the county.

“We believe it's fair to reimburse the county for food and lodging cost that is incurred,” Winick said.

In a February letter to Lee Pinkoson, the chair of the board of County Commissioners, UF president Kent Fuchs wrote that the event was not UF-sponsored, but they had to provide space. He said despite the mutual aid agreement specifying costs would be handled by each responding agency, UF would pay for food and lodging.

“We have built a very solid relationship between UF and local law enforcement and work very well together to keep our community safe,” Fuchs said. “We hope that this mutual cooperation and coordination will continue.”

Winick said the updated check was sent in February. In January, UF accidentally paid the county’s full invoice of $302,184 due to an “internal miscommunication,” according to Alligator archives. The county gave the money back to UF at the university’s request.

Mark Sexton, an Alachua County spokesperson, said the county does not plan to ask for more money than UF sent.

He said UF determined the cost by reviewing the county’s request and the requests of other agencies that assisted during the Richard Spencer speaking event. Fuchs and Chief Operating Officer Charlie Lane met with County Manager Michele Lieberman after the accidental payment, but Sexton said the meeting was not a negotiation.

The county reimbursed the Sheriff’s Office for the about $300,000 associated with the event, Sexton said, which is then what it requested from UF.

“It was a learning experience for everyone involved,” Sexton said. “If we are faced with a similar event in the future, we’ll all know much better how to handle it and how to have better conversation about expenses.”

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at rellenbogen@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @romyellenbogen

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