AUSTIN -- It has been almost five weeks since Occupy Austin protesters took up residence outside Austin City Hall.
On Monday, KVUE News learned just how much the protest is costing taxpayers.
Since Oct. 6, an average four to eight officers have been assigned to the Occupy Austin protest for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers have been pulled off of their beats and are working overtime at a cost of more than a quarter of a million dollars.
Since the beginning of the protest, it has cost taxpayers more than $207,000. Some city leaders question the cost. The Public Safety Commission plans to discuss the protest during its Monday meeting.
"Those are big dollar amounts in any year but in a year when businesses are down, sales taxes are down, property values are dropping, that is a very heavy burden for the city to pay and ultimately those of us who live in the city," Chair of the Public Safety Commission Michael Lauderdale said.
Protesters disagree and argue that the cost is justified.
"If we want to talk about where we are wasting the money, it is not Austin protesters, it's the government and the ridiculous laws we have in place," Deitrich Holgate said.
Austin police say there have been 71 arrests made since the start of Occupy Austin. Most are for criminal trespassing. Other arrests include warrants, aggravated sexual assault and disorderly conduct.
According to Occupy Austin's website, the protesters plan on occupying City Hall for another month.