Orange May Mean Red Ink For City

March 24, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Because of the orange alert posted by the Homeland Security Department last week, SMG general manager Rich MacKeigan heightened security at the Van Andel Arena and Grand Center.

MacKeigan said he and his staff are keeping in close contact with DK Security, the private firm that provides security for the buildings, and with law enforcement agencies.

“SMG is on the ball during the orange alert. We’re in contact with the police on almost a daily basis,” he said, while adding that he also stays in touch with state police and the FBI.

MacKeigan said there weren’t any current plans to cancel any scheduled events at either the arena or DeVos Performance Hall.

But MacKeigan also noted that the city has asked him to join the discussions being held on the cost of providing police officers for events at both buildings.

Those charges for members of the force who are assigned for protection purposes and traffic control for the evening and weekend events are billed to the city as overtime, and the annual cost exceeds $600,000.

With the city facing its largest budget deficit in decades and with the new DeVos Place set to open in December — which could result in even higher security costs — MacKeigan told members of two Convention and Arena Authority committees last week that the city may ask the CAA to help pay for the overtime charges.

MacKeigan is expected to address the full CAA board on this matter on Wednesday.

The city, Kent County, city police, Parking Services, the CAA and SMG will take part in the discussions. The city wants to reach an agreement with those groups on overtime pay for police soon so City Manager Kurt Kimball can include the expense in the FY04 budget he will present to commissioners in June.

The city’s fiscal year starts on July 1. 

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