Security costs for Summerfest rise to $800K, festival only required to pay small percentage

NOW: Security costs for Summerfest rise to $800K, festival only required to pay small percentage


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Safety at large public events is a major concern, but it also comes at a cost. Milwaukee city leaders received a pretty pricy bill for Summerfest security. 

It cost the City of Milwaukee $800,000 to pay for the police officers needed in 2019 and Summerfest only reimbursed the department about $130,000. 

Under a lease agreement agreed upon in 2009 with the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners and Summerfest, that is all they're required to pay. Under that agreement, the amount Summerfest has to pay will only go up a small percentage each year until 2030. 

The agreement differs from similar agreements that the Bucks and Brewers have with MPD where they pay MPD for the full cost of the security services provided. 

Milwaukee Police officials gave a presentation at Port Milwaukee to discuss the high costs for providing their service. Assistant Chief Michael Brunson says he's only concerned with keeping everyone safe at Summerfest. 

"It's not my job to ask for a pay increase. My job is to provide and work through my personnel and the personnel to the Milwaukee Police Department directed by the chief to make this city as safe as possible," Assistant Milwaukee Chief Michael Brunson said. 

The Commissioners for Port Milwaukee say they plan to discuss the issue again at a future meeting and no action was taken Thursday. 

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. released the following statement:

Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) pays the City of Milwaukee an average of $1.8 million in rent for the use of Henry Maier Festival Park.
The City of Milwaukee determines how MWF’s annual rent payment is allocated. Milwaukee Police Department costs associated with safely operating Summerfest should be covered by MWF’s annual rent payment. Given an average $1.8 million annual payment, MWF has more than covered MPD’s annual expenses for Summerfest.
Receiving no direct public support, MWF maintains, improves and develops a community asset that is enjoyed by over one million visitors a year. Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and Summerfest have a profound economic and cultural impact on Milwaukee generating an average of $186 million in economic impact per year and helping to define our community’s identity as The City of Festivals. As a non-profit organization, MWF remains dedicated to its original mission: to create civic pride and positively impact the community by providing affordable music and cultural entertainment for all.
MWF was not provided with the information released to the media this morning, so we are unable to comment on specifics. That said, MWF is in compliance with the terms of its lease.

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