In his column in April’s Biz X Magazine, Windsor’s interim mayor Drew Dilkens boasts about his continuing efforts to “… increase our cash reserves.” He fails to say why this is important.
Right now, the city has hundreds of millions of dollars in various reserve funds, including $32 million to retire debt ahead of its due dates.
But, on April 17 last year, the Windsor Star reported, “… the city has already covered all the debt it is allowed to pay off early.”
That money should have been returned to taxpayers, but wasn’t. It could have meant no tax increase this year.
Is such a large cash stash the best use of taxpayer money? Rational people would probably say that it isn’t, which is why speculation exists on why the city needs so much idle argent.
There are three possible reasons.
Maybe it is being stockpiled to help the city’s credit rating. But, Windsor Council brags about not borrowing money in any great amount. It likes to pay-as-it-goes.
Such a focus would not make sense.
By chance, the city is signaling it is preparing to lose the bingo lawsuit resolution. Windsor and neighbor Tecumseh are co-defendants in a class action where the plaintiffs, local charities, accuse the municipalities of charging excessive fees for charity bingos.
Eventually, unless it settles out of court, a judge will decide.
If Windsor loses, it might have to return millions to the charities. That would help the charities.
And a far-fetched, but probably more accurate assumption, centres on Dilkens building a war chest to compete for the 2025 FINA big one.
FINA, a rich, foreign swimming outfit, has very expensive tastes. Hosting one of its smaller events, the 25m Championship in December, cost Windsor taxpayers about $20 million, although City Council has yet to release the official expenditures.
Only Council knows why it is taking so long.
A major FINA championship, one of true world stature such as this year’s host Budapest can attest, can be extremely costly. Media reports from the Hungarian capital suggest a budget of more than $300 million.
Such an event would require a massive infrastructure to be built for a number of new swimming facilities; not just a temporary pool in the arena.
One clue does suggest Dilkens is saving for FINA. In his writings for Biz X, he claims sports tourism keeps, “… Windsor playing on the world stage.”
As is usual, he provides no substantiation.
In fact, no proof exists to say Windsor’s FINA event, which could not attract enough spectators to fill the arena, did anything for the city’s world stature. This would make any more FINA spending unwise for a community of Windsor’s size.
It has many more pressing needs.
To put all that sitting money in perspective, if the city did the right thing and gave its large reserves back, taxpayers would see a one-time tax cut of about two-thirds of their normal bill. That would help the economy.