Windsor Short On Money For FINA

Tuomi-HeaderDespite the city’s new chief administrative officer publicly admitting Windsor’s budget will not be enough to cover the cost of hosting the FINA short swimming event this December, his staff told a different tale to an inquiring councillor.

In the Windsor Star’s March 10 edition, Onorio Colucci revealed that those involved, “… ‘fully expect to be over (budget),’ but no one knows by how much.”

Earlier, internet swimming publication Swim Swam reported February 16 that, “… in Windsor the seemingly ballooning of costs associated with hosting the global event is a recurring concern.”

A local councillor was called on for an update and provided with some questions. Although the councillor, Ed Sleiman, passed the questions on to the city’s Finance Department, they were not answered nor did the department shed any light on why Colucci is expecting a loss.

Here is how the question was put to Councillor Sleiman.

Ed, the latest numbers I can get is that the FINA event in December will cost local taxpayers $16 million. Last year the Windsor Star reported the cost, of everything, at $21 million. In January a report suggested $3 million more might be needed to cover Canadian dollar exchange variance making it about $24 million.

On the revenue side, the province and country have, or will contribute $6 million. FINA will provide $1.5 million to offset the temporary pool cost and it has been reported $800,000 will be received from advertising and ticket sales. This leaves about $16 million to be covered by local taxpayers. Is this close?

In its reply, a Finance Department official puts the current budget at $11.265 million, and makes no mention of the dropping Canadian dollar. The official further explains, “… the funding sources include: City of Windsor-$2.3M (although City Council approved to max amount of $3M) Provincial -$2.5M Federal -$3.5M Other Revenues-$3.0M (from tickets sales, sponsorships, etc….)”

Although the Windsor Star’s March 10 report had other revenues at only $800,000, it seems to have multiplied without explanation of such optimism. Curiously, the department ignored the $7.5 million already invested in a new pool at the east end arena.

This is somewhat similar to the city ignoring chiller upgrades for the downtown pool, which took the overall cost to $80 million for a facility so poorly designed it can’t be used for the FINA championships.

The finance department’s numbers do not add up to what the Windsor Star calculated, which was based on what was known at the time. Right now, the difference between the Star and the added $3 million risk of currency exchange differences is a gap of almost $13 million, which will be underwritten by Windsor taxpayers.

Why is the Finance Department not providing an accurate update when the city’s CAO openly admits the budget will be breached?

Readers who can’t figure out what is going on may want to pose the questions to their councillors and also may want to ask why the city has no auditor general looking into this.

About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi

4 Comments on "Windsor Short On Money For FINA"

  1. The city has always kept us the taxpayers in the dark when it comes to financing any project or event, nothing has changed. The issue is that these are our tax dollars not ineffective mayor Dilkens or our city councillors, and we have a right to know an accurate amount of our tax dollars being spent on these FINA games.
    Mr. Knowles your statement saying you have 172 countries that have confirmed their INTENTION TO ATTEND does not mean that they will be attending. I have not heard anything on the US news or our own Canadian news about these FINA games being held here in Windsor, and we are only two months away. My understanding is when fast Eddie went to put a bid in for these FINA games he was the only mayor that did and that is how we got the over rated FINA games. The only winners in this high cost swim meet will be people like you Mr. Knowles and the FINA association, the losers are the city of Windsor taxpayers.

  2. Peter Knowles, the event director for the FINA swim meet in December, suggests that it will be the “biggest ever sporting event to be staged in Windsor…”

    This statement of a forward thinking “fact” is, in fact, incorrect.

    The 2016 OFSAA track and field meet at the University of Windsor in June of this year featured 2,313 competitors alone. Add in the officials (110), coaches (1,150), volunteers (400), and parents needed to successfully pull this off, and the FINA swim meet will pale in comparison.

    After over 2,500 spectators attended to view the free 3-day event, the 2016 OFSAA track meet will be the biggest sporting event in Windsor history for some time to come. Only the 2017 Memorial Cup has a chance to surpass it.

  3. Peter thank you for your comment and the excellent work you are doing. Although you do not recognize the figures they are based on reports published by the Windsor Star. The current figure you use of $11.265 million omits the $7.5 million cost of a new pool at the east end arena. Although this will be a significant event I am sure you will agree, as the swimming media have noted, no other North American city can afford hosting because FINA expects the host city to pay millions. It is why Guadalajara and Lake Magog cancelled their participation. As you probably witnessed during last weeks exceptional rainrall, over 1,700 homes in Windsor saw their basements flooded, many because the sewer system is inadequate. I am sure you will agree that the city can ill afford financing events for FINA and FINA should be willing to contribute the majority of the costs but does not. My question is what does it do with all the sponsorship money it collects for these events and why is it only subsidizing the cost of the temporary pool.
    I am certainly not against a major swimming competition but my concern is the cost. It is hard to understand the conflicting reports on what the cost is. The Chief Administrative Officer of Windsor is on record saying it will be over budget while you say the budget is on track right now. Please excuse me for saying this, but something seems amiss.
    There is also considerable non-alignment about the worldwide audience. FINA says four billion but they must know that is a stretch. Is not honesty the best policy in these matters?

  4. Peter Knowles | 5 October 2016 at 15:59 |

    As the Event Director for the Championships I do not recognise any of these figures except for the overall budget of CAD 11.265 million which remains unchanged.
    Some figures that are relevant – 172 countries have confirmed their intention to attend, over 10,000 room nights of accommodation have already been booked, contracts worth more than $4 million have been placed with local companies and hotels and more than 900 local people have registered as potential volunteers.
    To summarise, this will be the biggest ever sporting event to be staged in Windsor, planning for the event remains on time and on budget and the City is going to put on a great show for a worldwide audience.

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