NYC Only City Feeling Fiscal Strain Over Occupy Wall Street Protests
For now, New York City is the only municipality to incur significant costs related to the Occupy Wall Street protest and its offshoots.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread well beyond Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, taking up residence in major cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, but for now, it seems the only city facing a significant fiscal fallout from the movement remains the Big Apple.
As of Wednesday, the New York Police Department had spent $3.2 million to pay for overtime for police officers to monitor the protests and marches, the New York Times reports. At the same time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stated his desire to cut about $2 billion from the city's budget. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged he didn't know how the department would come up with its share of cuts. Postponing hiring of new police recruits has been floated as one possibility, according to the Times.
"We always prefer to not spend overtime," Kelly told the newspaper. "But again, this is a big, complex city; lots of things going on. And we have to spend overtime for unplanned operations."
Governing checked in with some of the other cities beset with Occupy protesters. None of them have thus far incurred the kind of costs that New York has, although it is important to note that the Wall Street protests began more than three weeks ago. Hundreds have been arrested, and thousands more have assembled. The movements in Boston, Los Angeles and Washington are significantly younger.
Peter Sanders, a spokesman for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, tells Governing the city has netted about $24,000 in costs associated with the Occupy LA movement. The parks and recreation department has spent about $4,000, and the city's general services have spent about $20,000 related to sanitation and other duties. No police overtime has been necessary to manage the protests, he says. Los Angeles hasn't produced a firm census on the number of protesters, Sanders says, but they have counted about 230 tents outside of city hall.
In Washington, where an estimated 1,000 protesters have gathered at times, Doxie McCoy, spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent Gray, tells Governing the city has also felt minimal impact on its coffers from the protesters in Freedom Plaza. The city's transportation department has spent about $10,000 on traffic control officers, and public works department has spent about $6,000 on sanitation. All of those costs are considered a part of those departments' normal duties for the time being, McCoy says.
The National Park Service actually patrols the Freedom Plaza where protesters have congregated, and Bill Line, communications officer, tells Governing there have been no additional costs associated with the protests because the park service already keeps officers on the clock for 24 hours at its locations.
The city of Boston has not calculated its costs related to the Occupy Boston protests. Dozens of protesters were arrested there on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. Boston Police Department spokesman Eddy Chrispin tells Governing he expects to have an estimate by early next week.
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