Lower costs for ethnic paraders?

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez wants the city to loosen up on the recent ruling that parades and festivals pay full price for city services they use.

Quinones-Sanchez planned to introduce legislation today that would put limits on the amount the city could charge ethnic parades and festivals for police and sanitation costs. A draft of the bill circulated yesterday would set the caps at $4,000 for festivals and $7,500 for parades, although Quinones-Sanchez stressed that the legislation was a work in progress.

Due to budget woes, the Nutter administration said in late 2008 that the city would start charging parades and special events for police and sanitation, a decision that has been controversial, particularly with ethnic parades.

Six ethnic-day parades march through Center City each year: Puerto Rican Day, Columbus Day, St. Patrick's Day, Greek Independence Day, Steuben Day and Pulaski Day. Last year, several shortened the routes to cut costs.

Quinones-Sanchez - who has long been involved with the Puerto Rican Day Parade - said these nonprofit groups were charged more than they could afford.

She noted that the city's six ethnic parades cost the city roughly $200,000 each year, saying that she thought bigger events, like the Mummer's Parade could be charged on a different scale.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade, scheduled for Sunday, has struggled to agree on a price with the city, said parade director Michael Bradley. The city wants to charge $40,000 this year, on top of $25,000 still owed from last year, Bradley said.

Bradley said that through support from John Dougherty, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, he expects the parade to go on.