Pope Francis’ visit is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors into Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and people are starting to wonder who’s going to pay the inevitable cost.
NJ.com writes that some of the expenses will be covered by event organizers and the federal government, but taxpayers likely won’t be completely off the hook. It’s typical for them to pay some of the costs for any high profile event, such as a presidential visit, or even the Super Bowl. The cities will be expected to provide certain services that will potentially be reimbursed, but it’s likely that citizens will be stuck paying for a portion.
New York spent $100,000 in police overtime when Obama visited the city. There are currently no estimates for how much security for the pope will cost, but former U.S. Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow told the Washington Post that it’s “one of the largest security programs for an individual in U.S. history.”
The Secret Service will be in charge of providing security and has enlisted the help of the FBI, Capitol Police, Coast Guard, Pentagon, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and local police. The federal government generally foots the bill for security, but we don’t yet know if its annual budget of $4.5 million will be enough to cover these costs.
Philadelphia is expecting the World Meeting of Families and the federal government to cover most of the costs for the pope’s visit, but Mark McDonald, a spokesman for mayor Michael Nutter, has told NJ.com that it’s too early to provide an estimate for how much the events will cost.
A spokeswoman for the World Meeting has said that the organization’s goal is to raise $45 million in donations. These funds will cover infrastructure, scholarships for underprivileged dioceses to attend, printing program books, and certain services provided by the city including cleaning up after the events.
The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau predicts that the pope and World Meeting could potentially bring in $418 million to the city, but Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross disagrees. Despite the large numbers of people visiting the city, he doesn’t think Philadelphia will benefit all that much financially because the visitors likely won’t be big spenders.
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