Taxpayers Moving Against Dilkens, FINA

Tuomi-HeaderIt seems Windsor’s taxpayers are certainly not amused with city councilors spending countless millions of dollars to host a second tier swimming competition for a rich foreign organization. At least this seems to be the conclusion after reading some who posted comments on a story in the October 13 Windsor Star.

The article discussed the city’s glory for hosting the short course FINA championship. The interim mayor, Drew Dilkens, stressed taxpayers should understand it, “… is not a regular sporting event.”

He did not explain what he meant, beyond bragging about how many countries will be arriving in Windsor, paid for by residents. This did not sit well with the majority of the commentators, especially John Smith.

He criticized Dilkens for what he called, “… a tremendous burden on property taxpayers of this city whose funds should be going to fix the city’s infrastructure.”

Smith also brings up the tragedy of local taxpayers who recently faced flooded basements, which he attributes to “… poor infrastructure.”

Despite getting millions from local taxpayers, FINA turned a blind eye to the floods. Some pundits think the organization, with such a rich bank account, could have at least generated a few million to the cause to show it is an organization able to give as well as take.

Smith concludes taxpayers having to pay for its event is, “… just wrong.”

John Knudsen called the event a, “… total waste of Taxpayer dollars.” He estimated the millions in free hotel rooms is, “… just a drop in the bucket to the other projects … the clowns on council are wasting money on.”

Knudsen would prefer the city’s council concentrate on jobs rather than, “… wasting money on things nobody can afford or cares about.”

Windsor is one of, if not the only, North American city able to afford FINA. A number of cities have backed out of FINA events because of the expense. Based on released information, Windsor might be on the hook for $16 million, or more.

This does not include $6 million from senior governments.

Robert Walker makes a point some pundits agree is valid. He suggests, “… this is something that should have had a vote.”

Of course the council doesn’t seem to like taxpayers having a say in how their money is wasted. Walker predicts the city, “… will be left in the dark as to whether we won or lost.”

Walker is right.

The city does not have an auditor general to sift through the expenses to determine the true costs. Dilkens, however, has promised an audit to reveal the economic value of the event. Some think the results of this audit have been predetermined because of what is riding on the event.

They fully expect the next shoe to drop will be Windsor hosting FINA’s main swimming event in 2025.

The host city has yet to be selected and FINA could be waiting until after Windsor’s short course to make its decision. The long course, as it is called, includes a number of swimming disciplines and is the second largest swimming event in the world, well ahead of the minor short course.

Embarking on such a misadventure could cost local taxpayers as much as $200 or even $300 million. This is based on what Budapest is spending to host the same event next year.

Dilkens has the money. It is sitting in various reserves that could be lavished on FINA, if only to put the city on the world map one more time.

Will it happen?

This corner of the Square has been adding up the evidence and will present it shortly.

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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.

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