Jefferson Parish made a major change in its 2019 parades, reversing the route for some Metairie processions. But one thing remained the same: The cost to taxpayers went up again, at a rate faster than inflation.
The government spent $1.6 million this year on 14 parades before, during and after the Mardi Gras season, according to public records released Wednesday (May 15). That’s a 5% increase from 2018.
The average parade in 2019 cost the public $117,490. In 2018, it was $111,882.
The numbers illustrate the growing cost of erecting signs and changing traffic signals, blocking streets, inspecting floats, enforcing rider regulations, policing the routes, providing medical services and collecting post-parade garbage, at a time when spectators, krewes and public officials pine for a more exciting spectacle. Decades ago, Jefferson hosted as many as 23 Carnival parades a year, and there is a widespread sense that the quality of many has declined along with the volume.
The newly released figures don’t include direct subsidies to the parading organizations. The Parish Council gives $10,000 to $25,000 to a handful of krewes to offset their expenses.
Much of the spending on Carnival comes from the private krewes themselves. Members pay dues and organize fundraisers to pay for the floats, costumes and throws.
But 16 local government agencies are used to make sure parades roll successfully. The biggest spending comes from the Sheriff’s Office – $327,584 this year – and the parish administration’s Citizens’ Affairs and Parkways departments, according to the records.
The public cost of Family Gras shot up 71% this year, to $103,287, according to the records. That might be due to moving the Metairie festival this year from the Veterans Memorial Boulevard median near Causeway Boulevard to the front parking lot of Clearview Mall.
Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, whose district includes the Metairie parade route and who wields outsized influence over the parades, did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday.
|PAYING FOR PARADES|
|Year||Parade cost (dollars)||No. of parades||Average parade cost||Family Gras cost (dollars)|
|*-17 scheduled; 15 rolled; average based on 15. **-No cost data available for 2015. Source: Jefferson Parish records, staff research.|
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