Business

Surrey keeps mum on former U.S. presidents' price tag

Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (left) and George W. Bush will speak at Surrey
Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (left) and George W. Bush will speak at Surrey's annual economic summit this fall.
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The City of Surrey says the cost of bringing former U.S. presidents to speak here later this year will not be made public, as their rates vary depending on the events.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former Democrat and Republican presidents respectively, are coming to Surrey this fall to speak at the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit.

Coun. Linda Hepner said as part of the deal to get them here, their rates can't be disclosed publicly.

However, Clinton typically charges in the neighbourhood of $300,000 for such engagements and Bush requires about $150,000 - a total of $450,000 for the day.

Mayor Dianne Watts said that's much more than what's being charged for the Surrey event.

Clinton has a friend in the Vancouver area who flies him up here periodically, which gave the city the opportunity to invite him here for much less.

"Contractually, we cannot talk about their fees, because I would expect, depending on the event, they would vary," Watts said Tuesday. "But I will say that taxpayer dollars are not funding their speaking engagements at the summit. Those costs will be covered off by sponsors and ticket sales."

The city, Hepner said, is a minor sponsor of the event, contributing up to $20,000 to pay for printing and other sundry costs.

As for police overtime costs to bolster security, Hepner said that would be a federal matter.

Hepner said as soon as the city announced the two former American presidents were coming, the phone started ringing. Companies were lining up to have their name attached to it by way of sponsorship.

"They were calling us," a surprised Hepner said.

Watts said the main sponsors are mostly financial institutions and investment organizations.

The summit will be held at the Sheraton Guildford Vancouver on Thursday, Oct. 20. Clinton and Bush are slated to make their presentations later in the day.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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