MORTON — Thousands flock to the village each September for the Morton Pumpkin Festival.
It costs thousands of dollars to keep everyone safe and make sure they have a good time.
The totals are in for Morton Police Department overtime, comp time and auxiliary police hours for the 2017 Pumpkin Festival and they add up to $10,474.15, the most since records began being kept, as far back as the 1980s.
The Village Board learned about the Pumpkin Festival police expenses Monday.
The board won't vote on paying the bill until early next year, when Morton Police Chief Craig Hilliard will inform the board about police expenses for all 2017 community events.
Police overtime and comp time and auxiliary officer wages for community events are paid from the village's hotel/motel tax revenue, not property taxes.
This year's Pumpkin Festival police expenses are 20 percent higher than the $8,711.96 incurred in 2016 and a 10.6 percent hike from the $9,465.96 in 2015.
Asked about the increase from last year, Hilliard said fewer auxiliary officers were available because of manpower and scheduling issues.
"The cost could have been higher," Hilliard said. "Nine Bartonville Police Department auxiliary officers helped us during the Pumpkin Festival parade and we weren't charged.
"We reciprocated. Six of our auxiliary officers helped out the Bartonville Police Department at the Limestone High School homecoming parade the week after the Pumpkin Festival."
Hilliard said it's not uncommon for police departments to help each other at community events and not charge for the work.
For example, he said, Washington Police Department part-time officers worked at the Pumpkin Festival years ago and Morton auxiliary officers reciprocated by working at the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament when it was held in Washington.
Hilliard said there are two mitigating factors when taking a look at the rising cost of Pumpkin Festival police expenses over the past several years. The cost was $7,255.32 in 2007.
The auxiliary police hourly rate increased from $12 to $13.25 in 2011, and the comp time cost was included in Hilliard's report starting in 2013.
More than 50 police officers worked at this year's Pumpkin Festival parade, Hilliard said.
They were needed.
"I was in the parade and I can tell you the route was packed with people from start to finish," he said.
The Morton Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the Pumpkin Festival, pays for overnight security on the festival grounds for six nights, Hilliard said, "but we certainly pay attention to what's going on there during our regular patrols."
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.