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The Daily


Madison's Halloween 2006 cost more than ever

Mounted police patrol State Street at the Freakfest Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006.
Mounted police patrol State Street at the Freakfest Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006.
Credit:David Michael Miller
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Numbers released Tuesday afternoon to Isthmus in response to an open records request show that the cost of running last year's Halloween party in Madison, or FreakFest, topped those of past years, despite intense planning that reduced crowd size and disturbances.

Even with the revenue generated by the event's new $5 admission fee, the 2006 event was more costly than in 2005, in part due to a sizable drop in revenue from citations, and in part because of higher costs to other police agencies.

According to a Feb. 6 memo to Police Chief Noble Wray from MPD budget analyst Terri Genin, the department spent $376,900 on direct costs. This includes $195,292 in straight pay and benefits, $128,788 in overtime and benefits, and $58,335 in supplies, minus a $8,250 contribution from MG&E.

"These costs are approximately $28,000 more than the costs incurred in 2005," the memo states. The increases were in both straight time and benefits ($10,000) and supplies ($18,000). The increase in supplies was "primarily due to increased costs to rent the University Inn and the State Street facility, and also the additional costs for the PA System."

(Presumably, some of the pepper spray purchased for the event but not used will be available for future use.)

The MPD's costs were matched almost equally by other law-enforcement agencies, including a $233,769 expenditure by the state patrol, and smaller amounts by the Dane County Sheriff's Office ($69,284), UW Police($52,600) and police in Middleton, Fitchburg and the state Capitol. The total cost for all law enforcement was $763,722.

The $376,722 in costs incurred by other police agencies compares to $230,935 in such costs in 2005, according to Genin.

On the revenue end, city of Madison parks superintendent Jim Morgan says 34,493 tickets were sold for $5 each. That's $172,480, or about $163,500 after state and local sales tax (yep).

Meanwhile, the MPD issued 342 citations for a total of $94,344 in fines, according to police spokesperson Mike Hansen. That number, he allows, is "significantly less than in years past." Indeed, in 2005, police issued 702 citations for a total of $176,605 in fines.

City Attorney Michael May has previously told Isthmus that the "vast majority" of these fines are paid, mainly because "if they don't pay, the judgment follows them around and attaches to their driver's license."

Putting the numbers all together, the total cost of Freakfest 2006 was about $500,000 -- $763,722 in police costs minus revenue from ticket sales and fines. That compares to a 2005 total of about $400,000 -- $579,835 in police costs minus revenue from fines.

The city does not fully reimburse these other agencies for law enforcement costs. But according to mayoral aide George Twigg, the city divided the $163,600 it collected in ticket sales among the various units of government who helped in the event. Since the police costs were about equally divided, that means the city pocketed $81,800, as did these various other units of government.

That means the city's direct cost for Freakfest was $200,756 -- police costs minus $81,600 minus revenue from fines. That compares to the straight up 2005 total of $172,295 -- police costs minus revenue from fines. So there.

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