Acting mayor Jane Williams-Warren has no plans to ask the city council to approve a resolution issuing a refund to the organizers of the Dominican parade for the early shutdown of festivities, according to business administrator Nellie Pou.
“This was a proposal that was submitted by the former mayor [Jose “Joey” Torres]. Mayor Warren is not submitting that for consideration,” Pou told council members on Tuesday night. “She [acting mayor] said if any of the council members want to make that proposal they can do so.”
The proposal calls for $17,325 refund be issued to the parade organizers, Desfile Dominicano of New Jersey, for the early cessation of festivities. The parade and festival were to run for 12 hours, but ran for 8 hours. The group lost four hours of time.
Police shutdown the festival after violence erupted.
The city calculated this entitles the group to a 33-percent refund from the $34,650 it paid to the city to put on the parade and festival. That would amount to an $11,538 refund. However, the administration recognized the parade organizer incurred additional monetary losses relating to third-party vendors due to the early shut down of the festival. This recognition pushed the refund from 33-percent to 50-percent which the previous administration viewed as “equitable.”
“At this point I’m going to leave it to God,” said Elsa Mantilla, president of the Desfile Dominicano of New Jersey, when told of what transpired on Tuesday. Vendors have been calling her to collect their losses due to the early shutdown. About two dozen vendors were affected, she said.
The city incurred $120,000 in security and clean-up expenses for the parade. Under a city ordinance, the organizer is responsible for 40-percent of the cost. In this case, the city under estimated the number of people who would attend the festival and the parade. Paterson makes the organizer pay upfront based on estimated police and clean up costs.
City resident Robert Parchment has spoken out against issuing a refund. He spoke again on Tuesday night and opposed issuing a refund.
“As a taxpayer, I don’t see how I’m paying $120,000 in pure overtime. Why aren’t the organizers paying for this? This event is too big and too costly for our city. It probably should be moved to the Garret Mountain and let the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department take it over,” said Parchment.
Council members Luis Velez and Shahin Khalique continued to clash over the refund. Velez favors a refund while Khalique opposes it.
Khalique requested the administration provide a complete breakdown of the costs. His opposition to the refund doesn’t just have to do with dollars and cents, the 2nd Ward councilman felt slighted by the parade organizer for ostensibly inviting his arch rival Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman to the group’s gala.
Akhtaruzzaman was not directly invited by the organizers. He attended the gala as part of a delegation from Nicholas Real Estate.
Mantilla said she runs an inclusive, non-political event.
None of the council members volunteered to sponsor the measure for a vote on Tuesday night.
“We will bring this back up for discussion,” said council president Ruby Cotton.