Despite 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.