DALLAS – As families count down the days to the start of the State Fair of Texas, preparations on the fairgrounds are already underway.
Finalizing a new security agreement between the City of Dallas and the State Fair of Texas, however, did not come without some strong feelings from a few Dallas City Council members on Wednesday.
“Dallas is a weird damned place to live,” said Councilman Phillip Kingston.
Kingston is among those blasting the new agreement. The plan now has the State Fair of Texas reimbursing the city $1 million in overtime for officers conducting security and traffic control.
Police administration says overtime racked up over last year’s fair cost the city about $3 million.
Kingston asked his colleagues, "Why is the State Fair not being asked to compensate the City for the full cost of the Fair?”
State Fair of Texas reimbursed the City of Dallas $550,000 for security measures in 2016, according to its staff. Police administrators support the new plan, saying it is the department’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all those in and around the fairground.
Mayor Mike Rawlings supported the new agreement. “This is a big public safety issue,” Rawlings told the council, “and a big economic opportunity for the city.”
About 2.4-million people visited the State Fair of Texas last year. The economic impact added about $300 million across the City of Dallas.
State Fair of Texas workers say in addition to the new security agreement with the city, they will also be hiring off-duty police officers, in order to ensure a safe environment.
Still, some council members believe the partnership between the City of Dallas and the fair needs to be revisited.
Council member Sandy Greyson said, "I would like to ask that we ask our staff and police to start talking to them about next year obtaining full cost recovery for police and security at the fair.”
The State Fair of Texas staff says it is committed to making sure it has a significant level of security to continue making it a family-friendly environment.
The State Fair of Texas runs from September 29 to October 22.