If the city increases parade fees for Mardi Gras societies it wouldn’t be implemented until the 2020 Carnival season.
Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber told a gaggle of reporters Friday morning he called the meeting initially in order to “vet” fee increase proposals. While an increase from the current $1,005 to $5,000 was discussed initially, Barber said no amount was determined at the meeting, and after hearing from representatives of the city’s 43 parading societies, he told Mayor Sandy Stimpson to hold off on any proposal.
“The conversation is open,” he said. “We want to figure out how to approach it from here.”
The city spends roughly $50,000 per parade on average for public safety during Carnival season, Barber said. At that rate, it costs the city $2.2 million to host parades from all 43 organizations.
He added that some of the larger organizations had asked about increasing the fees, but 17 of the smaller organizations told him they wouldn’t be able to parade in 2019 if the fees were increased.
The city budgets for increased costs to public safety associated with Carnival season. Barber said he believes that more than $1 million is budget each year.
This is not the first time Stimpson’s administration has attempted to make changes that impact Mardi Gras societies. In 2015, he announced plans to close the Civic Center, a popular venue for a number of Mardi Gras balls. He later announced the facility and property would be redeveloped. In September, Stimpson’s administration announced it had sent out a request for proposals for ideas on how to redevelop the Civic Center property.
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