What Say You Rino Bortolin?

Tuomi-HeaderThe cost of the recent FINA short course swimming championship has now reached $27,540,852. The first attempt to quantify the council’s expensive folly for world attention came on March 10 in a column by the Windsor Star’s Anne Jarvis.

At the time, she found itemized expenses totaling $10,810,000, but left out an important one which put spending over the top.

According to the Windsor Star on December 9, the, “… meet will award almost US$1.2 million … more than 10 per cent of the event’s $11.3-million overall budget.”

This would bring the total to $12,010,000.

But, there is a curiosity in this. The Star mentions US dollars. In fact, the whole budget is in US dollars.

Jarvis does not identify which currency she is using, but does mention when, “… the contract between the city and FINA was signed, the Canadian dollar was near par.”

At current exchange rates, the new total is $14,644,500 Canadian, well above the much touted $11.265 million. This should be no surprise. At the time, Jarvis quoted Onorio Colucci, the city’s chief administrator, when he said, “We fully expect to be over (budget).”

The list of expenses prepared by Jarvis includes flights, “… and transportation to and from the airport, hotels and events: $1.6 million. Hotels, food and beverages: $1.5 million.” Hotels are mentioned twice.

Venues: $2 million. That’s only the temporary competition pool. Opening and closing ceremonies and other events: $595,000. Timing, scoring, technical officials, lifeguards: $600,000. Lights, videos, music, lasers, medal presentations: $425,000.

Medical and anti-doping: $150,000. Senior staff and administration costs, from legal to insurance: $870,000. Security: $160,000. Recruiting, managing and dressing volunteers in uniforms: $185,000. IT and communications … $325,000. Media $1.4 million. There’s also a $1-million contingency fund.

Not part of the operating budget was $7.5-million to add a pool to the east end arena. Rightly, she argues, it should be included because it will be, “… a community pool with extras like a splash pad, but it originated and is still needed as a warm-up pool for the event.”

There is some discussion as to its actual need during the competition.

Jarvis also added $398,900 in other expenses. This consists of, “… a $9,500 costume for the mascot … $285,000 salary of the event’s director, Peter Knowles.”

His $2,600 a month rent allowance adds up to about $62,400 for his term. He also had $42,000 in travel expenses.

Jarvis also mentioned Sponsorship Canada was hired for $80,000 to get sponsors.

In a March 3, 2015, column, Jarvis mentioned the, “… council approved $200,000 to bid for the championship. That’s not included in the $11.265 million.”

In addition to this, the city paid a $50,000 deposit to FINA once it was selected as the host city. And there were a number of trips taken by the city’s former mayor, Eddie Francis, and current chief magistrate, Drew Dilkens, on FINA business.

The Star reported on February 19 that the, “… two mayors have already spent nearly $50,000 on travel to attract, negotiate and promote the swimming event.”

On September 20 the CBC reported the city will, “… pay $150,000 to outfit a backup generator at the WFCU Centre as a contingency against a potentially embarrassing power outage during the upcoming FINA swimming championships … Dilkens told reporters he wants to make sure nothing goes wrong.”

A number of items in the budget were increased.

A total of $282,952 was reported in CAO approval reports from the city’s website. On November 4, $165,220 was added for buses. On September 1, the contract to Australia’s Great Big Events was bumped up by $67,732, and on August 30 the contract with International Sports Broadcasting was increased by $50,000.

A minimum of $10,000 will be paid to Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. This is research into the economic benefits in which actual research was done.

According to the Star’s December 14 edition, the outfit, “… surveyed 600 spectators to determine how many were from outside Windsor, if they were here for the event (not because they’re related to an athlete) and how much they spent.”

All of the costs detailed here are based on press or city reports and, despite their authenticity, will be challenged by the sycophants on Council simply because it shows almost $28 million was spent for a reported economic benefit of $20 million.

This is the way the council operates.

Some might remember an April 1, 2013, report in the Windsor Star. It revealed the Children’s Games of that year had a, “… $2.5 to $3 million budget. [Nora] Romero expects the area should see an economic impact of at least $2 million.”

And finally, the snowstorm on December 11 closed the local airport requiring an extra night of hotel rooms. An estimate of $50,000 has not been confirmed.

In fact, information about hotels are not being revealed by the city. Jarvis herself filed a Freedom of Information request and is still waiting for a response.

Is the council a little worried taxpayers will be upset knowing they are responsible the $27.5 million, especially after finding out they are now facing a tax increase?

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