The Mobile Police Department is considering a significant increase in the cost of parading permits during Mardi Gras season.
Update: After this story was initially posted, the city of Mobile released a statement saying: “There will be no fee increase during the  Mardi Gras season. This is just a discussion for the future to explore what the potential impact would be.” Two prior press statements issued by MPD and Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office gave no indication that any proposed permit increase would go into effect after 2019.
After hearing reports from multiple parading organizations, Lagniappe has confirmed MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste met with the leadership of several groups Wednesday to discuss a possible fee hike for the permits required to enter a float into any of the parades in Mobile.
Entrants are charged those fees to help offset the MPD’s cost of providing security during the events. On average, there are 42 parades throughout Mobile’s carnival season.
City spokeswoman Laura Byrne told Lagniappe Battiste held the meeting to discuss the proposed increases in permit fees but said no specific amount has been determined at this time.
However, two members of two separate parading organizations who attended the meeting told Lagniappe Battiste discussed potential increases as high as $4,000, which would bring the current $1,005 fee up to $5,000 per parade entrant and generate an estimated $210,000.
Lorenzo Martin, president of the Order of Doves, said the groups were told the fee increase would be used to help the department offset overtime for officers during Carnival season. Martin, who was present at the meeting, said if the fee rises to $5,000, it will prevent a number of the “minority organizations” from participating.
Although, he said the police department still may reconsider the fee.
The last time parading fees increased in Mobile was in 2010, when former Police Chief Michael Williams announced they would be doubling from $500 to $1,000. At the time a department spokesperson said officer overtime cost the city roughly $25,000 per parade and more than a $1 million throughout the season.
Lagniappe reporter Dale Liesch contributed to this post
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