Mayor fears cost overruns but stresses value of visit

The splendor of yesterday's historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Baltimore will cost city taxpayers more than originally planned, but Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said it's well worth it.

Although bills were not expected to be totaled until tomorrow, the mayor predicted cost overruns yesterday morning as the pontiff arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"Between the demands of the archdiocese and the Secret Service, we have spent more than we planned. We will have to make some adjustments," Mr. Schmoke said.

Later, though, after the papal Mass at Camden Yards and a parade along Charles Street, the mayor's spokesman said Mr. Schmoke was less concerned about costs. Clint Coleman, the spokesman, played down the mayor's remarks at BWI as in a "humorous range," adding that the mayor believed the papal celebration should not be dampened by budget woes.

"Whatever the cost, it's worth it," Mr. Coleman said in a statement from the mayor. "In no way should this day be marred with a discussion about the cost."

Mr. Coleman said he was unsure whether the city had a specific budget for the papal visit, but most costs would be for police and public works.

Public works Director George Balog said his department was expecting to spend more than its budgeted $250,000 for setting up and clearing the streets for the papal visit.

Extra costs were attributed to overtime for clearing the parade route and unexpected expenditures for crowd control at Saturday night's Boyz II Men concert at the Pier Six pavilion at the Inner Harbor.

City police declined to reveal how much they expected to spend on the pope's visit or how many officers were on duty yesterday.