Mid-size city Austin, Texas is expecting to spend $1,000,000 of taxpayer money on the Occupy Austin movement, effectively eating away at claimed reductions in the city’s police overtime budget only two months into their fiscal year.
According to the Digital Texan…
Occupy Austin has been inhabiting City Hall Plaza for two-months and at today’s Austin Public Safety Commission meeting came stunning news: The Austin Police Department has spent $412,000 policing the Occupy Austin protest since it began on October 6 through November 19. That figure is almost certainly higher today. The Commission admitted that the city could be on the hook for over $1 million before too long.
To put the $1 million figure in perspective, you need look no further than the city of Austin’s own budget for 2011-2012 – that’s what the city was hoping to save on police overtime this year. Austin’s fiscal year starts on October 1st. The city budget made the following assumption…
The Police Department is generating savings by delaying the start of the next cadet academy by six months and reducing its overtime budget by $1.0 million, from $9.3 million to $8.3 million, to be more in-line with actual overtime costs experienced over the last few years. In the past three fiscal years, actual overtime expenditures have averaged $7.5 million.
What are Austinites getting for their money? In a pattern that’s been followed all over the country, the ‘Occupy Camp’ in Ausitn has become largely a homeless camp. The Digital Taxan…
…many of the protesters camping at City Hall Plaza have been replaced by homeless people who are attracted to all the free food and handouts. Under normal conditions, police wouldn’t allow a bum or a hobo to take a nap on City Hall Plaza, much less set up camp.
An AP article from mid-November that found the cost of Occupy to a survey of only 18 cities through November 15th to be over $13,000,000 includes a couple of typical responses from the entitled Occupy movement about the costs.
“We’re here fighting corporate greed and they’re worried about a lawn?” said Clark Davis of Occupy Los Angeles, where the city estimates that protesters’ property damage to a park has been $200,000.
“It’s $7 million of taxpayers’ money that’s being spent to stifle our First Amendment rights,” Dutro said. “You know, they’ve consistently overreacted.”
But the police and taxpayer money hasn’t been used to stifle anyone’s First Amendment rights but to promote the safety of both the public and the protesters. For instance, while the protesters march in the streets of cities like San Francisco, the police are actually used to protect the First Amendment rights of protesters where the police block traffic so marchers can pass through intersections safely.