The good news: Occupy Philly is costing taxpayers much less money recently. The bad news: That's probably going to change.
On Sunday, Mayor Nutter announced there will be a beefed-up police presence at the encampment due to several public-safety incidents.
"I have asked Police Commissioner Ramsey to increase the uniform police patrol in the area where Occupy Philly is as well as establish structured and strategic positioning and deployment of officers on a regular basis," Nutter said in a statement.
City budget director Rebecca Rhynhart said that taxpayers have spent nearly $500,000 on Occupy Philly, in police overtime and other costs, as of Nov. 9. Interestingly, she also said costs recently went down compared to previous weeks. During the fifth week of Occupy Philly, the price tag was $39,000. Conversely, the demonstration's first week cost taxpayers $230,000 — and at the time, Rhynhart predicted that afterward, the weekly expense would be $112,000.
But Nutter's announcement changes things. The increased police presence will either mean taxpayers will pay more in police overtime costs, or will have to deal with police services being re-directed from other areas.
In Occupy Philly's first week and a half, the Police Department's entire Neighborhood Services Unit — which recovers stolen cars and responds to short dumping reports, among other things — was sent to the protest. That means those officers couldn't do their job anywhere else in the city.
Either police services will be re-directed again, or police overtime costs will go up. Or both.