Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City to Charge Parade Fees

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City to Charge Parade Fees

Article excerpt

PATERSON - Tackling an issue that has ignited passionate opposition in the past, the mayor has made public his plan to impose fees for the first time on groups that hold parades in the city.

The leaders of Paterson's largest parade, which celebrates Dominican heritage every September, said they recognize the city's financial problems and are willing to pay a reasonable fee to offset the cost of police and cleanup crews.

But they and the leaders of the Peruvian and Turkish parades said they were not sure what impact the fees would have on their events because the city has not yet said how much the fees will be.

"I understand what the mayor said about the city's situation, and I don't have a problem paying a fee," said Elsa Mantilla, president of the Dominican Parade. "I just don't know how much it's going to be."

The parade's vice president, Miguel Diaz, said the committee would contribute to defray the city's costs "because it's good for the city."

In 2011, the last time Paterson tried to impose such fees, some parade organizers canceled or relocated the events to other towns. The Dominican group filed a challenge in federal court, a case that ended with a settlement that allowed it to hold the parade without paying any fees.

One of the issues in that case was whether the city followed proper procedures for establishing the fees.

Since then, the state Department of Community Affairs has repeatedly called for Paterson to impose fees to offset what the parades cost the city. Documents show such expenses have amounted to several hundred thousand dollars some years.

Mayor Joey Torres told the City Council on Tuesday that he had met with the parade groups to explain the budget difficulties and the need for community groups to share the expenses.

Torres said he held the meeting before parade season started so the organizations could prepare for the impact of the fees and adjust their plans, for example, by shortening parade routes.

Officials have not disclosed exactly how the fees would be calculated. …

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