ST. PETERSBURG — For the past few years, the city has co-sponsored the annual St. Pete Pride parade in name only.
In a deal the administration recently made with event organizers, that's set to change.
Mayor Rick Kriseman promised Pride officials that they would have to pay only half of the estimated $69,000 bill for security and cleanup.
The in-kind service arrangement is no doubt welcome news to Pride officials, who had submitted an indigent application, saying they were unable to pay the $69,000.
"We worked with them to make sure they can have a successful event," Kevin King, the mayor's chief of staff, said Tuesday.
The St. Pete Pride parade is one of the biggest in the country and has drawn more than 100,000 people.
Last fall, organizers announced that they were adding another day to the event. The parade along Central Avenue will be held the night of June 28.
A street festival will take place the next day.
But expanding the event translated to higher costs.
"Like a lot of organizations, they needed to figure out how to pay for it," King said.
St. Pete Pride executive director Eric Skains said the group spoke to city officials informally about whether the bill could be adjusted but never got anything formal worked out.
Yet the group also knew that other big events had had all or some of their costs waived.
For example, the annual parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has received indigent status for years, leaving the city to pick up the tab for security and police coverage because it falls under the protection of a public free speech event.
Skains said Pride had never asked for such an arrangement.
"The only reason we filled (the indigent application) out was the deadline was coming up. It was just kind of raising awareness to get us on the agenda," Skains said. "We were never asking for the whole thing to be free. We just wanted to be treated like anyone else. As event organizers, we all talk to each other. We just started asking some questions."
The administration decided it was important to support the event as it does other large events, King said.
He said St. Pete Pride was not being treated unlike other large-scale co-sponsored events like the Grand Prix and the upcoming Blue Ocean Festival, which get similar in-kind support or a waiver of some fees.
"It has a $10 million-plus economic impact," King said. "This is, I think, an easy one."
With a deal worked out, Pride officials have formally withdrawn their indigent application, King said.
In the coming months, King said, the mayor wants to re-examine the process the city uses for events like Pride.
"What we're trying to address is when there's a city-supported event, what does that mean?" King said. "The administration's intent … after the month of June is to look at our standards and criteria … to have a more uniform system in place."
Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643. Follow on Twitter @cornandpotatoes.