The ballooning costs of providing security for Wicked Manors could force the event’s organizers to withdraw.
Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center, said the usual cost of $9,000 has tripled to $27,000 because of the attacks in Orlando and France. “This is our new world,” he said. Mayor Gary Resnick agreed, saying that the cost of future events would be more expensive.
“It’s the most dangerous kind of event because you can dress however you want [and hide weapons or explosives],” said Commissioner Tom Green.
The increased in security costs would cut severely into the profits from the event, said Boo. The Pride Center made a profit of $40,300 during Wicked Manors in 2015. Boo said it all went to fund the programs and services offered by The Pride Center.
To help defray the costs, The Pride Center reached out to Wilton Manors officials in the hopes of getting the city to help cover the cost of additional security.
Boo said it wouldn’t make sense for his organization to take on an event of this magnitude by itself because the city benefits from the increase in visitors and exposure that stems from the event. “It’s a win-win.”
Boo said other ways are being explored, including possibly a GoFundMe page. “We’ve got to get it from somewhere.”
On Aug. 23, the commission approved up to $10,000 for public safety. It wasn’t all specifically earmarked for Wicked Manors but commissioners gave City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson the discretion to decide how much of it would be used to help cover the security costs of the event.
“This is not necessarily going to be a recurring policy,” said Commissioner Justin Flippen.
Resnick said he wanted to use the money as leverage to get The Pride Center to look for more sponsors. Resnick also suggested that the city should look for federal and state grants to help with the cost.
Commissioner Julie Carson said she wanted to give organizers an answer so they could move forward with planning the event.
Business owner Doug Cureton said it was important to have the event “and not give into fear and terror.”
Resident Michael Rajner criticized the commission for giving money to a festival but still not approving money for transgender healthcare. He also criticized the commission for not trying to find a solution during its budget workshops. Rajner said the city has been a leader on other LGBT issues but failed on this one. “I really would have expected the city to take a little bit of leadership. It’s a shame.”
Carson has brought the issue up before this year’s budget meetings but it was not approved. Her fellow commissioners said they agreed with adding the coverage in principal but could not justify the cost.
The estimated cost for providing transgender healthcare, which would include hormone replacement therapy and gender reassignment surgery, would be $32,500 per year. That would be money spent regardless of whether or not a city employee utilized the coverage.