Last weekend's Halloween celebration on State Street was the most peaceful in five years - which ironically will make it, for Madison taxpayers, more expensive.
This year's contingent of 300 Madison police officers was about the same as last year. The price tag then, tabulated in February, was $376,900. Other law enforcement agencies, from the State Patrol to the Capitol Police, spent a roughly equivalent amount.
MPD spokesman Joel Despain says about $195,000 of last year's tab represent fixed costs that would have been incurred whether or not tens of thousands of revelers took to the streets. And about $130,000 of this tally was overtime, a category for which there "could be a dramatic reduction" this year, due to scheduling changes.
But it's unclear whether the savings will be great enough to offset a certain decline in revenue.
Last year, the city was able to pocket about half of the $163,000 in post-tax receipts from ticket sales, with the rest split among the other entities that provided police.
This year, the city contracted with Frank Productions to sell tickets. The payment formula is complex, but Frank will get about 40% of the $195,000 collected, after taxes and other costs. Then the city will split whatever's left with the other entities.
The end result: Less moola than last year.
But the biggest Halloween moneymakers are the kind that cost much more than $5 or $7. In 2005, the city recovered much of its policing costs by issuing 702 citations, for a total of $176,606 in fines. (City Attorney Michael May has said the "vast majority" of people cited do pay because, otherwise, "the judgment follows them around and attaches to their driver's license.")
In 2006, the first year the city tried to calm the event by reinventing it as Freakfest, this fell to 342 citations for $94,344.
This year, according to an MPD report (see this story at TheDailyPage.com), there were just 247 citations, for a total of $63,551 in fines.
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is not too concerned. "The most important thing is to deliver a safe event, which we've done for two years in a row," he told an Isthmus reporter in the wee morning hours at this year's event. "Now we can look at the costs going forward, and also increasing what we can bring in via revenues."