The city’s Dominican and Peruvian parade organizations combined raised $296,126 in 2013, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings.
2013 IRS filings for Desfile Dominicano de New Jersey, the group that puts on the Dominican parade, reported revenue of $149,246. Similarly, the Peruvian Parade reported $146,880, according to IRS records.
These numbers would suggest, the two groups would be able to cover 40-percent of police and public works costs the city incurs during each of the parades. “We don’t get that money and besides we have to pay so many things,” said Carlos Tello, president of the Peruvian parade. He said the group has to pay for license, police, and other things.
Tello said the parade is not put on for business. We put on the parade in order to keep our culture in the minds of our people, said Tello.
“We don’t make that money that they said,” remarked Tello when mentioned his organization collected more than $140,000 in 2013. He said that number is “totally wrong.” When told the number is from his organization’s IRS filing, Tello said expenses have to be subtracted from that number.
“We spend at least $120,000-$130,000,” said Tello. His group spent $125,000 that year from the total raised leaving the group with a leftover of $21,819. The Dominican parade raised $149,246 and spent $146,247 leaving $2,999.
City officials suspect the groups are making money through floats and sponsorships. Tello said his group is a non-profit and all money is expended towards the parade. He said in 2014 the group raised around $100,000.
Tello said he would provide 2014 IRS filings in two hours, but in a follow-up call he did not respond.
“We don’t have the parade to make money. The money we make we put it back into the parade,” said Elsa Mantilla, president of the Dominican parade.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, reviewed the two groups IRS filings, and said he would like to see cost breakdowns. The Dominican parade for example has all its expenses in three broad categories without much details. “We need to see an expense schedule if these organizers are going to take the position that they cannot afford this therefore they automatically qualify for the 60-percent subsidy. Where’s your schedule of expenses?”
The subsidy requires the groups to demonstrate “documented” financial hardship, according to the measure before the city council.
Mantilla said she understands the city is in financial straits and does not oppose the imposition of fees, but she said her group has already prepared for this year and may not be able to afford to pay.
“If we begin to work this year for next year we may do some adjustments,” she said. She said she does not have issues with the fees, but the group needs time to raise money.
“It’s not fair to do this at this time because we’ve organized everything for 2015,” added Tello. His group plans to protest against the measure tonight in city hall.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, said the city is asking the parades to fork up additional cash in the “11th hour.”
He said the groups should be given time to raise funds to pay the city. “Maybe we should give them a little bit more time, but somehow we have to push them to pay the city,” concurred Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman.
“The mayor can’t hold a gun to their heads and force them pay this late in the parade season,” said Sayegh.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in a statement said the parade fee discussions have been happening for the past three years. He said parade organizers and city officials have been discussing it before he came into city hall for a third term.
Torres revised the formula for fees on Monday stating the city is willing to shoulder 70-percent of the costs and leave the rest, 30-percent, to the organizers. Prior to Monday, city officials, at the behest of the state, were attempting to force the groups to pay 40-percent of the costs which would cost Peruvian parade organizers $37,344 and Dominican parade organizers $50,544, according 2015 city estimates.
The Dominican parade will cost the city $126,360 in police and public works costs in 2015. The Peruvian will cost $93,360, according to city estimates. City police keep peace at the parades that are attended by thousands of people while public works crew clean up after the parade passes.
If the two groups end up paying 30-percent, the Peruvians will pay $28,008 and the Dominicans $37,908.
Sayegh suggested the city use special police officers to keep costs down. He said the special police was created for crowd control and other functions currently regular police perform during parades.
Using specials is an option, said Torres. Organizers can also create savings by analyzing parade length, routes, and closing less streets to minimize use of police and public works to create savings, said the mayor.
Morris said city officials still have to figure out how to calculate the fees to collect from organizers and how to award subsidies. The calculations will be done using historical costs, said city officials.
Mantilla said there’s a real prospect the parade may be canceled, but she said she understands the city has little choice but to pass it after being mandated to do so by the state for three years.
“Joey is pro parade,” said Mantilla of the mayor. “The point is now he has that situation: the DCA [New Jersey Department of Community Affairs] says they must charge us some money.”