Four North Texas cities that helped with the Super Bowl are being reimbursed millions from a state fund, although they were not required to specify how the various expenses related to the big game, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving thoroughly documented every expense -- such as $1.10 for art tape. But in many cases, there was little or no explanation of why the purchases were needed or how they related to the Feb. 6 Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, according to thousands of pages of receipts released to The Dallas Morning News.
Most of the first $6.8 million was spent on police and fire department salaries, and thousands were spent on office supplies for Super Bowl preparations, meals for public safety staff and cable service for an emergency operations center. But a sizable amount went to more unusual expenses, including pansies, pepper spray, barbecue, blankets, cardiac monitors and coffee, according to the newspaper.
State law gives little direction on the matter. The language calls for repayment of costs "relating to the preparations necessary or desirable for the conduct of the event and the payment of costs of conducting the event."
The Texas Comptroller's Office asked that cities supply invoices, purchase orders, expense reports and electronic reimbursement schedules -- but there was no requirement to justify the expenses, said spokesman R.J. DeSilva, whose office manages the Major Events Trust Fund.
The cities also provided signed statements that the expenditures were directly related to the Super Bowl. The state allows the trust fund to set aside tax dollars for big events to help offset local costs and give bidding cities a financial advantage.
"If we have questions, we call up and make sure there is a sufficient explanation of the items," DeSilva said.
Only a $6 lunch tip was rejected. Tips, alcohol and repayment of damages are ineligible.
Arlington described the application of sand to icy stadium parking lots, inspections of stadium restaurants and clubs, and snow and ice removal along Super Bowl routes. But it did not explain other items, including health inspections for businesses outside the stadium. City officials said those were outsourced.
In Fort Worth, an email explained a $9 parking fee. But no explanation was given about $8,600 used to rent seven 15-passenger vans for Super Bowl week. City officials told the newspaper the vans transported police to preserve public parking spaces.
Officials from the four cities told the newspaper why some purchases were needed and how they related to the Super Bowl, even when the explanations were not included in their submissions to the agency. And some expenses were explicitly required in the region's Super Bowl bid, including police escorts for teams and installing at least 2,000 street banners.
The Texas Comptroller's Office has paid Fort Worth nearly $2.3 million and Irving $764,862. Dallas' bill for $3 million and Arlington's for $715,000 await final approval. The four cities and the Super Bowl XLV host committee could receive as much as $31.2 million to help offset the cost of the game and preparations. Documentation of the host committee's reimbursement was not yet available.