The federal government should help support the World Trade Center’s September 11 museum, which is set to open this spring after years of delays but could be facing budget shortfalls, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.
Officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum plan to appeal to de Blasio to help subsidize its $60 million annual budget. The memorial foundation previously was rebuffed by Congress and by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg has been chairman of the nonprofit memorial foundation since 2006. But he argued that the federal government, not the city, should subsidize the museum because the 2001 terror attacks, which destroyed the World Trade Center’s twin towers and killed thousands of people, were a national event.
De Blasio echoed that sentiment on Wednesday.
“It’s something that people come to from all over the country, from all over the world, and we need the federal government to join with us,” he said at an unrelated press conference in Queens.
Adding that “the museum is personally important to all of us,” de Blasio said he was “committed to the memorial, but we need to have a serious conversation with the federal government as to where we go from here.”
The memorial paid off its $700 million construction costs with a combination of state, federal and private funds but needs additional money for its operating expenses. The foundation is considering an admission price between $20 and $25, though relatives of the victims would be admitted free. The museum also would have some hours during which admission would be free to everyone.
The combination of ticket prices and on-site donations should cover around $36 million of the $60 million annual budget, memorial spokesman Michael Frazier said.
“We are looking forward to providing more information about the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to Mayor de Blasio and his aides and working together to help ensure this important institution is here for future generations,” Frazier said in a statement, adding that the foundation’s bylaws allow the mayor to make an appointment to its board.
The museum’s plans to petition de Blasio were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
About $10 million of the budget is earmarked for security. In 2011, a bill that would have provided $20 million in annual federal funding was defeated in Congress.
If needed, the foundation can draw upon a low-interest $15 million line of credit provided personally by Bloomberg last spring. Bloomberg also has donated an additional $15 million to the foundation.