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Taxpayers Footing Big Bill For President Trump's Travel Costs

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PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – Budget watchdogs are criticizing the cost of President Trump's visits to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach.

The President returned to Washington from his so-called "Winter White House" Monday night. He has been there the past three weekends. That's 11 of his first 33 days in office.

The travel has an estimated price tag of ten million dollars.

The White House won't disclose the exact cost of Mr. Trump's visits, but the $10 million estimate is based on figures from a similar trip by President Obama in 2013.

Air Force One accounts for a big chunk of the presidential travel budget, costing more than $180,000 dollars per hour to operate.

That means the roughly 4-hour roundtrip flight to his seaside estate costs more than $700 thousand dollars.

"If he's going down there every weekend, the costs are going to add up pretty quickly," explained Tom Fitton, President of the watchdog group Judicial Watch. Fitton is pressing the administration to release Mr. Trump's travel costs.

"He doesn't need to go to Florida every weekend. He can work at the White House or up at Camp David," said Fitton.

Mr. Trump often attacked his predecessor for traveling too often.  He once tweeted: "President @barackobama's vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars----unbelievable!"

Another cost of keeping President Trump safe is disruptions to businesses near Mar-a-Lago.

The airspace around Lantana Airport is restricted whenever the President is in town.  On an average day, there are around 300 takeoffs and landings.

"But when the President arrives, nothing moves, except the bottom line for businesses that operate out of the airport. They say they lose about 30-thousand dollars each weekend they're closed.

Others welcome the presidential visits to Palm Beach.  Ed Kassatly owns a boutique in the ritzy Worth Avenue shopping district.

"President Trump will bring many more high end visitors to Worth Avenue and to the community, which is definitely going to help everyone on a high economic scale," said Kassatly.

Regardless of who is in office, presidential trips aren't cheap.   Clearly, the President must be kept safe.   But he also needs to travel with a large contingent of aides so he can continue running the government, especially during emergencies.

During his 8 years in office, Mr. Obama racked up about $97 million in travel costs.  President Trump is on pace to eclipse that by the end of his first year.

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