Despite early assurances that the World Meeting of Families would pay all costs for the papal visit, the city said Wednesday that taxpayer dollars would cover nearly half the costs related to the event - about $8 million.

The city spent $17 million on Pope Francis' visit in late September, according to the city's budget director, most of it to pay for police and fire services. The city has sent a bill to the World Meeting seeking nearly $9 million.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz - a frequent critic of Mayor Nutter's - said the amount being billed to the World Meeting was far below his expectations.

Nutter said Wednesday that the city always intended to cover costs leading up to and following the pope's visit, as it does for parades, presidential appearances, and other big events.

"What I said, what I thought I said, and certainly what I meant, is, they would be billed for additional costs that went with the actual two-day event in the city of Philadelphia," Nutter said.

"There is always a distinction between what the organization pays vs. what is a part of the normal city responsibility and obligation when we have an event."

In the run-up to Francis' visit Sept. 26 and 27, most questions about costs were answered by city and church officials with the emphatic statement that the World Meeting would pay.

Ken Gavin, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said in July that "the WMOF entity is responsible for bearing the burden of all costs."

Nutter said "all costs" referred to money spent on the Saturday and Sunday the pope was in Philadelphia.

So the bunting that went up around City Hall, the cleanup of city streets, improvements to IT systems, and the large police presence on the Friday, when dozens of magnetometers went up, all fall to the city, Nutter said.

The World Meeting has paid Philadelphia $5.2 million, so the invoice sent Wednesday seeks an additional $3.4 million to be paid within 30 days.

In a statement Wednesday night, Gavin said: "It is our understanding that the World Meeting of Families' agreement with the city was based on previous agreements that the city has made with other organizations for large-scale events. Our agreement reflects past precedent."

Butkovitz said the expectation for the deal with the city was that "anything the city spent and would not have but for this event should be included in that invoice."

"If these costs are part of the event, then under the language of the contract they should be reimbursed," Butkovitz said. "If they were not part of the event, I think the mayor would have to explain why else they went through such extraordinary security measures."

Butkovitz said papal activities began with the World Meeting of Families conference that started on Monday of that week, though it was confined to the Convention Center.

"The conference occurred from Monday, so how does the mayor say Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday don't count? City offices were closed Thursday, Friday, and that wasn't because the pope was coming to town?"

Nutter said the billing is in line with how the city treats any of its event producers. He said the benefits to the city - more than one million people attended over the weekend - were well worth the money.

"I'm very grateful people pay their taxes, and I have to believe in such a diverse city that there are some who are probably not excited about the many walks and runs we have here, but this event highlighted the city of Philadelphia in ways and at levels that are almost unimaginable."

A breakdown provided by the city showed that most of the money was spent on police ($9 million) and fire ($4.7 million) services.

Most of the police cost was overtime: $8 million from Sept. 24 to 28 to cover the intense security around the city.

The city is seeking $3 million in reimbursements for police and $3.5 million for fire.

The event was designated a National Special Security Event, which brought the coordination of several federal agencies, but no federal money.

Neither the states nor surrounding counties providing aid were reimbursed for their costs related to the pope.

"We are trying to make an argument to the federal government that when an NSSE is declared, quite honestly, we think you should come with at least part of a check to help cities cover some of the various costs that go with this," Nutter said.

City Council will hold a hearing Thursday on an ordinance to approve transferring $17 million within the budget to cover the papal costs.

Nutter said no taxpayer money was spent for religious activities.

"We were very mindful of the last visit," he said, referring to controversy over city expenditures for an altar for the 1979 visit by Pope John Paul II. "So none of our resources went to religious-affiliated aspects."