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D.C. taxpayers pay $600k in overtime for parades, races

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Local,Bill Myers

District taxpayers have eaten hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime costs for police protection provided to local parades and events, The Washington Examiner has learned.

Since September 2008, city officials have granted fee waivers to organizers of a dozen neighborhood parties, from the Oyster Adams 5K race to the Cherry Blossom parade. It has cost taxpayers more than $600,000 in police overtime that would otherwise have been paid by event organizers, sources told The Examiner.

Total overtime costs reached nearly $900,000 but organizers have chipped in small amounts to defray police costs, the sources said.

All told, the 12 events racked up nearly 19,000 in overtime hours, the sources said. Among the highest tabs has been the SunTrust National Marathon, which left the public with more than $485,000 in overtime costs over the past two years. Marathon organizers paid about $26,000 to defray costs.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, a passionate triathlete, ran in the 2009 SunTrust marathon.

Organizers of the annual Caribbean parade, on the other hand, paid $200,000 to the police department for its overtime costs, the sources said.

Neither Police Chief Cathy Lanier nor Attorney General Peter Nickles responded to requests for comment Friday.

In March, city Administrator Neil Albert ordered the police department to absorb the costs of the marathon, saying the race was chance to "showcase the world class qualities and tradition synonymous with the nation's capital."

Police union Chairman Kris Baumann, a continuing critic of the Fenty administration, said he didn't object to the waivers for the nonprofit neighborhood festivals but found the marathon waivers galling. He said private foundations and corporations like SunTrust could easily subsidize the race.

"I can see no justification for subsidizing SunTrust's advertising budget with taxpayer money," Baumann said. "This means less police officers in dangerous neighborhoods if we're shouldering the bill."

Police OT for community events

»  12 events, including Fiesta D.C., Oyster Adams 5K, the Cherry Blossom Parade, the Caron Butler Classic, Sister to Sister, the Capital Cluster 10K, the High Heel Race and the SunTrust National Marathon

»  Nearly 18,700 overtime hours racked up

»  Total costs: More than $876,000

»  Organizers' contributions: nearly $273,000

»  Taxpayers' contributions: more than $605,000

bmyers@washingtonexaminer.com

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