Proposed ordinance would up security costs for local events

SPOKANE, Wash. — Events like Hoopfest, Bloomsday and the Lilac City Festival Parade could soon be paying more for security.

The Spokane City Council is considering an ordinance that will charge legacy events for police coverage, crowd control and clean up, which could up the price.

Prior to COVID, Hoopfest paid the city around $40,000-$60,000 for these fees. Executive Director Riley Stockton said the Hoopfest team is grateful for the next two years as the cost won’t be as much.

However, if the ordinance passes, Hoopfest would have to pay $90,000 for security starting in 2025.

“Without a doubt, any cost does hurt us a little bit. It’s something that is being planned out enough in the future where we can at least navigate it and start to prepare for it,” Stockton said.

Councilman Zack Zappone says the costs are going up because of the police contract agreement last year. Officers work overtime for these events.

In the proposed ordinance, legacy events like Hoopfest, Bloomsday and Pig Out in the Park, city council is looking at bringing the fees back with incremental increases over the next few years because of COVID.

This ordinance was discussed back in 2019 but then the pandemic hit.

The big three events usually paid 40-percent of the costs for public safety and event recovery. However now, it’ll be moving up to 50-percent and then an additional 20-percent for wage increases, Zappone said.

READ: Hoopfest registration lacking compared to other years

Parade organizers like the Spokane Lilac Festival will also have to start paying for public safety costs under this ordinance. They have not had to do that in the past.

“Traditionally, parades have not paid anything and we wanted to make sure we had an equitable funding stream to make sure we can operate those costs to make sure everybody can continue their festivals,” Zappone said.

While Alan Hart, the president of the Spokane Lilac Festival, appreciates the city for the easing into these payments over the years, he’s not sure what the future will hold.

“I hope we can find ways to work around it. and find new ways to raise some dollars. Unfortunately, anything we get taxed, we’ll have to pass on to people who are actually watching this event,” Hart considered. “Somehow, we’re going to have to find ways to get money out of this event, that we have never had to do the in past.”

Hart hopes the city will work with them on this, but it depends on what will happen and there are many factors still up in the air.

Zappone says free speech events, like the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, will not have to pay more money for security costs. Those events are usually capped at $500 and it will stay that way under the proposed ordinance.