LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – La Crosse's biggest Oktoberfest parade is in doubt.
The City's Department of Public Works voted Monday that it would charge Oktoberfest a maximum of $11-thousand to cover the cost of clean up following the 2013 Maple Leaf Parade.
Oktoberfest Executive Director Tina Severson said that's more than double the $4-thousand fee the organization was expecting to pay.
Public Works Director Dale Hexom said $4-thousand would be sufficient to cover worker overtime, but Oktoberfest would also be responsible for paying approximately $7-thousand in rental rates for city equipment such as trucks.
Severson said footing that bill is a tall order, considering Oktoberfest typically loses money on the Maple Leaf Parade.
"When you look at the 150-thousand people who come in to watch the parade, we only see 20 to 30-thousand of those people that then come in to our actual grounds," Severson said. "So when you look at the numbers that way, we have to determine if it's still fiscally responsible to keep doing that."
Severson added she estimated Oktoberfest lost between seven and $9-thousand on the 2012 Maple Leaf Parade.
But Hexom said the high cost shouldn't come as a total shock.
"Whether it's Oktoberfest, the Chileda Classic, Riverfest, a key part of today's discussion at public works was to be uniform, and to charge anyone that has an event requiring overtime and use of equipment during that overtime the same rates," Hexom said. "That doesn't mean they'll pay the same, because it's still based on how many hours the staff puts in. But the rates are the same."
Hexom said roughly three tons of trash was left on the streets following the 2012 Maple Leaf Parade.
"We can't get street sweepers up on the sidewalks and the boulevards," he said. "We can sweep the streets, but someone still has to walk down all those sidewalks and pick up the garbage, the blankets, the chairs and everything else that people leave behind."
Hexom said Oktoberfest could potentially reduce the $11-thousand fee by providing some of its own volunteers to take care of trash collection rather than delegating it all to his department.
Severson said the fest is considering all options, although she'd hate to lose the parade.
"There's a large chunk of visitors the come, and money that then goes into the local economy that would be lost," she said. "It's also a huge community outpouring. From the schools that march in the parade, the different organizations you see, it's just a showcase of what we have to offer in La Crosse and in the Coulee Region."
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