Oahu taxpayers will pick up a portion of the tab for President Barack Obama’s visit to Hawaii over the Christmas and New Years holidays, specifically for police and ambulance escorts.
Michelle Yu, spokesperson for the Honolulu Police Department, said today HPD spent $214,728 during the president’s visit on special duty pay for officers who escorted the President. In the past, Obama’s visit cost $250,000, but because he left in the middle of the vacation for a brief time to return to Washington DC, the city will spend slightly less money this year on police protection.
The city also provides an ambulance on a 24-hour basis throughout the President’s visit, costing Oahu taxpayers around $10,000.
When President Barack Obama first visited Hawaii over the Christmas holiday in 2008, the city applied for reimbursement from the federal government for the overtime pay, but was not reimbursed.
The department no longer seeks reimbursement, opting instead to cover the cost as a “privilege” for having the President here.
Federal taxpayers have a bigger bill to cover for the First Family’s Hawaiian vacation. The President’s visit typically costs more than $4 million. However, because he flew twice to Hawaii from Washington DC during his stay, the cost of the trip nearly doubled.
After arriving in Hawaii on December 22, Obama left First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia on December 26 to return to Washington DC to continue negotiations with Congress to avoid a “fiscal cliff.”
After Congress reached an agreement, Obama opted to return to Hawaii, landing at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu on January 2.
The biggest expense is Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One.
A Congressional Research Service report released in May 2012 said the plane typically used by the President, a Boeing 747, costs $179,750 per hour to operate. The U.S. Air Force has listed the cost of travel as high as $181,757 per flight hour.
Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or as high as $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.
The President will have made two round trips to Hawaii via Air Force One within a matter of days bringing the total for his air travel to more than $6.4 million, and the cost of the trip to more than $7.2 million.