Lakefront festivals in Chicago ended up costing taxpayers more than $2 million last year. That's including a staggering $1.5 million for the cost of security services for the Taste of Chicago.
The policing costs were revealed in an internal document, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, that was prepared by the Mayor's Office of Special Events. The document shows that as many as 293 police officers who served as security for Taste of Chicago 2009 cost up to $111,572 daily.
That's compared with $550,891 for Marine, Helicopter and Public Transportation Units for the July 3rd fireworks show in 2009. Although,the show usually drew more than 1.2 million people to Grant Park, the Daley administration canceled the show this year because of declining revenues.
Instead, City Hall opted for three smaller firework shows in different parts of the city to try to cut costs, but it didn't quite work out that way. According to information given to the Chicago Sun-Times, the three firework shows cost $756,476.
Peter Scales, a spokesman for the city's Office of Budget and Management, said the increase was "largely attributable to the fact that this year's event was on a holiday, that police have recently received a 7 percent contractual increase in pay and that we added two locations."
The Sun-Times reports that last week, Mayor Daley disclosed that he would seek to privatize the Taste and other lakefront festivals to help erase a $654.7 million shortfall. But Scales says "It's too early to talk about that."