NEW YORK — With its huge reflecting pools, ringed by waterfalls and skyscrapers, and a cavernous underground museum still under construction, the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center is an awesome spectacle that moved and inspired some 4.5 million visitors in its first year.

But all that eye-welling magnificence comes with a jaw-dropping price tag. The foundation that runs the memorial estimates that once the roughly $700 million project is complete, the memorial and museum will together cost $60 million a year to operate.

The anticipated cost has bothered some critics and raised concerns even among the memorial's allies that the budget may be unsustainable without a hefty government subsidy.

By comparison, the National Park Service budgeted $8.4 million this year to operate and maintain Gettysburg National Military Park and $3.6 million for the monument that includes the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Running Arlington National Cemetery, which has more than 14,000 graves and receives 4 million visitors a year, costs $45 million annually.

Officials at the 9/11 memorial say they face unique challenges that make comparisons to other national memorials difficult.

The foundation plans to spend at least a fifth of its operating budget, or around $12 million per year, on private security because of terrorism fears. Visitors to the memorial plaza pass through airport-like security, and armed guards patrol the grounds.

"The fact of the matter is that this was a place that was attacked twice," said Joseph Daniels, the foundation's president and chief executive.

Just operating the two massive fountains that mark the spots where the twin towers once stood will cost another $4.5 million to $5 million annually, said the foundation's spokesman, Michael Frazier.

Foundation officials didn't respond to requests for information about other costs at the site, including the anticipated expense of running the museum, which is still unfinished and might not be anytime soon.

The museum was supposed to open this month, but construction all but ceased a year ago because of a funding squabble between the foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land the memorial sits on.

Daniels said it will take at least a year for the museum to open once construction resumes, meaning the site may not be fully complete until at least 2014.

The failure to open the museum on time has thrown off the foundation's financial planning. Officials had expected to use the museum, being built mostly with money from various government agencies, plus private donations, as its main source of revenue.

While visitors will be allowed into the above-ground portions of the memorial for free, the foundation plans to charge people to descend into the museum's exhibition space, where they will see portraits of the nearly 3,000 victims, hear oral histories of the tragedy and view artifacts such as the staircase World Trade Center workers used to flee on 9/11.

The admission price hasn't been set. Foundation officials say they may also charge a "suggested donation" where visitors would be allowed to enter for free but would be strongly encouraged to pay a yet-undecided amount.

But if the museum gets the 2 million visitors a year the foundation expects, a $12 fee, like the one charged at the memorial to the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, would cover 40 percent of the operating costs. More money will be generated through fundraising and the sale of memorabilia.

In addition, the foundation and several elected officials have proposed that the American public pick up one-third of the operating costs.

So far, Congress has balked. A bill proposed by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, that would have had the National Park Service contribute $20 million per year ran into opposition from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who noted that the federal government had already spent $300 million on the project.

A National Park Service official, William Shaddox, testified at a hearing that $20 million is more than the agency can afford, and larger than the entire annual appropriation for nearly 99 percent of the parks in its system.

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  • A woman cries while looking at the names inscribed at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Justin Lane, Pool / Getty Images)

  • A woman cries while looking at the names inscribed at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Justin Lane, Pool / Getty Images)

  • Family members gather at the edge of the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Justin Lane, Pool / Getty Images)

  • A flag hangs from 1 World Trade Center, left, as friends and family of the victims of 9/11 attend a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • Former U.S. President George W. Bush and family and the U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama view the North memorial pool during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Carolyn Cole, Pool / Getty Images)

  • Family members of the victims enter the 9/11 Memorial Plaza for the first time during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

  • People gather to watch the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. (Myra Iqbal, AOL)

  • Bagpipers walk towards the stage past the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during 10th anniversary ceremony of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Justin Lane, Pool / Getty Images)

  • People gather during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, outside the World Trade Center site in New York. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • Family members pay respects in front of one of the two waterfall pools during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • People gather during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, outside the World Trade Center site in New York. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • People gather during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, outside the World Trade Center site in New York. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • Family members of the victims of the attacks at the World Trade Center, Sept. 11, 2001, enter the Sept. 11 memorial plaza during the 10th anniversary ceremonies at the site, Sunday Sept. 11, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Chip Somodevilla, Pool)

  • A woman reacts after the name of a family member is read during a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray, Pool)

  • Family members visit the south reflecting pool of the Sept. 11 memorial during 10th anniversary at the site, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Todd Heisler, Pool)

  • The World Trade Center flag is presented during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center site in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush attend a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • Paulette Nelson, from Savannah, Ga., watches a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 in New York. (Myra Iqbal, AOL)

  • New York City Commemorates 10th Anniversary Of 9-11 Terror Attacks

    NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Paul Simon performs at the 9/11 Memorial during the tenth anniversary ceremonies of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site, September 11, 2011 in New York City. New York City and the nation are commemorating the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and one crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Allan Tannenbaum-Pool/Getty Images)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    People tie ribbons to the St. Pauls Chapel fence in commemoration of the September 11th attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    People tie ribbons to the St. Pauls Chapel fence in commemoration of the September 11th attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    People tie ribbons to the St. Pauls Chapel fence in commemoration of the September 11th attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    People tie ribbons to the St. Pauls Chapel fence in commemoration of the September 11th attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Road blocks in downtown Manhattan with police inspections have been formed in light of a possible terror plot to attack the National September 11th Memorial at Ground Zero. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Chere Rosadesharon sells posters to passersby at the FDNY Memorial Wall at Ground Zero. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Ray Coyle holds a wooden flower with an eagle imprinted on it that he sells to people at the FDNY Memorial Wall at Ground Zero. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Firefighters pose for a photo at the FDNY Memorial Wall at Ground Zero. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Visitors to Ground Zero place mementos at the FDNY Memorial Wall. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Visitors to Ground Zero write on a poster at the Ground Zero site. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Denise Rooney and son Tomas Rooney check out the FDNY Memorial Wall to find what they believe is a distant relative from England that was killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Tim Bolles and daughters Anna and Averyl check out a sign with the names of the victims of the terrorist attacks on the United State. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Seon Youhg from South Korea places a note card sentiment for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States on a board in Battery Park. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Tom Steel and Pam Crabb both from England pose for photographs in Battery Park. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Visitors to Battery Park check out the thousands of flags erected in the park in remembrance of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Visitors to Battery Park check out the thousands of flags erected in the park in remembrance of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Visitors to Battery Park check out the thousands of flags erected in the park in remembrance of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    Roberta Daveri and Laura Todescato both from Italy check out the notes people had written and attached to a board setup in Battery Park. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    A large amount of police cruisers and officers arrive at the National September 11th Memorial in prepartion for the opening of the Memorial on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    A large amount of police cruisers and officers arrive at the National September 11th Memorial in prepartion for the opening of the Memorial on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    An overview of the National September 11th Memorial site can be seen on September 10, 2011. People from all over the world flock to Ground Zero for the upcoming ten year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Saturday September 10, 2011. (Damon Dahlen, AOL)

  • The annual “Tribute in Light” memorial e

    The annual “Tribute in Light” memorial echoing the twin towers of the World Trade Center illuminates the night sky during the 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks at the lower Manhattan site of the World Trade Center September 11, 2011, in this view from Bayonne, New Jersey. Also seen are the Statue of Liberty (C) and 1 World Trade Center (L). AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • September 11th Ten Year Anniversary at Ground Zero

    A beam of light shines at ground zero on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the Manhattan Borough of New York on Saturday, September 10, 2011. (Myra Iqbal, AOL)