Sánchez leads effort to override parade-cost veto

Posted: June 10, 2010

With negotiations between City Council and Mayor Nutter over the city's funding for ethnic parades and community events at an impasse, City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez said she would try to override Nutter's veto of her bill requiring the city to pick up all police costs for the events.

Sánchez's bill, which would have required the city to pay for future security and crowd-control costs as well as retroactive costs for 2009 events, passed Council by a vote of 15-2 last month. Nutter vetoed it.

Sánchez has been negotiating with the city on a compromise, and on Monday she met with the administration and representatives of the Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund, a nonprofit founded by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) to help the Mummers and other organizations defray costs.

Last week, Brady announced a $500,000 donation to the fund from philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest to provide $100,000 a year for community events for five years.

But Sánchez and the administration could not even agree on what the city actually spent on events last year. The administration provided a chart showing police costs for special events was nearly $2.8 million in calendar year 2009.

But Sánchez wrote in a counterproposal Tuesday that those events - including police detailed to the 2009 inauguration of President Obama in Washington - had little relation to the 74 events "which can be rightfully categorized as cultural parades and festivals."

She said that those events cost less than $530,000, and that $331,000 of the police costs were eaten up by the Mummers Parade and the Ogontz Jazz and Arts Festival. That leaves 72 events that cost less than $200,000 total, she said. Faced with a budget crunch, in late 2008 Nutter announced that the city would no longer cover police overtime and cleanup costs for parades and community events.

Sánchez was still negotiating Wednesday night, and said she expected "a counter to my counter" Thursday morning. She said she would consider introducing a new bill next week based on that proposal but planned to pursue the override, for which she needs 12 of 17 votes.

Sánchez wants the city to exempt community events from the first $3,000 of security costs. Under her proposal, midsize parades, with costs of more than $3,000 would be responsible for one-third of their costs; the rest would come from the city and the traditions fund.

Contact staff writer Jeff Shields at 215-854-4565 or jshields@phillynews.com.

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