Occupy New Haven taxes city budget

BurnsideClapp_occupynewhaven-17

Occupy New Haven organizers continue to protest what they perceive as corporate America’s costs to society, but over the past several months, the demonstration’s presence on the Green has handed a hefty tab to city taxpayers.

Since the protest movement began last October, city officials said they have spent over $60,000 in overtime compensation for police officers ensuring that the protest remains safe. The city also pays $1,900 per month to to supply portable toilets and garbage removal services for organizers. Additional costs as a result of the protest have not yet been calculated, including the cost of rehabilitating the Green whenthe occupiers eventually leave. Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s office defended these taxpayer expenses, citing individuals’ rights to peaceful protest and the importance of accommodating free speech.

“The Green has a 374-year tradition for being a place where people assemble and exercise free speech,” said Elizabeth Benton ’04, spokeswoman for DeStefano. “We are proud to see that continue.”

New Haven is not alone in shouldering unforeseen expenses as a result of the Occupy movement. New York City alone has spent nearly $6 million on costs related to Occupy Wall Street, Philadelphia has spent $500,000 on police overtime alone, and Portland, Ore. officials estimated $750,000 in expenditures on repairing park damage and police overtime.

The city has not yet begun to investigate what the cost of repairs to the Green will be when Occupy New Haven comes to an end, said Christy Hass, deputy director for New Haven’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees.

Paul Perrotti, president of Perco Landscaping, said that he is familiar with the size of the Occupy New Haven camp on the Green and estimates that the total repair costs will be under $10,000. He added that the soil will likely need mechanical aeration, renewed grass seeding and fertilization, and root fertilization near any trees due to the site’s tents and protesters’ foot traffic.

Beyond the police overtime and sanitation expenses, city officials said that the Occupy movement has led to other ongoing expenses that are more difficult to calculate. For instance, Benton said, the New Haven Fire Department regularly inspects the Occupy campsite, as fire department officials have the final say as to whether the protest is safe to continue. There is no explicit figure for how much money these inspections cost, she said. Benton added that fire department officials have recently been concerned about the safety of gas-fueled heating devices used in Occupy camps around the country. Such heaters caused the death of one Occupy protester in Salt Lake City through lethal carbon monoxide poisoning, she said.

New Haven’s costs are small compared to those in larger cities, but with municipal budgets tight across the nation, the figures have sparked mixed reactions among New Haven residents. Some find the costs unjustified while others said all peaceful protests should be encouraged.

“Cities can barely afford to pay teachers and firefighters,” said Peter O’Hare, a city resident. “Taxpayers should not be asked to pick up the tab for a protest that will go on indefinitely.”

Mike Stern, another resident, said city officials need to consider whether the money spent on protest-related costs could be put to better use.

The Occupy New Haven protest began on Oct. 15..

Comments

  • sonofmory

    this is a joke!

  • redman

    That’s peanuts as compared to how much illegal immigrants are costing the tax payers.

  • Quals

    what a waste

  • MsMoneypenny

    Keep it going!

  • OccupytheClassroom

    How much does Yale cost the taxpayers EVERY year?

    Also please recheck figures. I do believe the Portland figure was given to the city in June of last year, before occupy.

    And, occupy Vancouver determined how much it SAVED the city in housing the homeless. Might want to check that out.

  • OccupyTabs

    I have emailed Mayor DeStefano requesting transparency in regards to this figure, I am still waiting. The lack of response can only lead to the conclusion that this is just propaganda to excuse any impending budgets cuts that may be on the agenda and blame the finances of it on OWS. Maybe officials and the public should be more concerned about the countless trillions of dollars that are STOLEN LEGALLY by Wall St & DC and their Lobbyists while they whittle away your rights via NDAA & EEA. Oh you have no idea what those are? That’s because the government doesn’t want you to know that they are taking away your rights as an America in the false guise of “safety”. Next will be another escalation to get the false flag flying “liberty” of the masses going when they really have no idea what Liberty is about anymore. Maybe if they were service charged everytime a right was eliminated they would notice, or if it was on American Idol or the Kardasian’s. The dumbing down of the masses and the naysayers are adding to the decimation of this country. Unless you are stealing or lying to the citizens of this country you are the 99%. Wake Up!!!

  • Gern_Blansten

    Simple solution… charge them rent.

  • OccupyTabs

    Police supervision is not needed we are all adults and don’t need to be monitored. In regards to trash pick up, recycle items are separated in proper bins and when they are picked up by city they items are tossed in trash not recycled as required. The Port-A-Potties or Facilities should be there for all availability anyway as a common courtesy to the public, and in regards to the grounds, the city has been informed that Occupy New Haven will assist in bringing back the grounds to it’s original state. SO what other excuses would you like to try to cater to keeping the masses asleep to the facts of the reason why we are there, CORRUPTION IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND WALL ST WHO ARE THEIR BEDBUDDIES! Hello??!!! I’m sorry didn’t mean to disturb the coma’s. Oh, one more little detail, Police and Government are OUR SERVANTS not the other way around, We Pay Them Thru Taxes, therefore we are their Employers!