After ringing up a $33 million surplus in 2016, most of it attributed to what now seems to be a 2.7% tax overcharge, money is flowing out of City Hall. In fact, the Francis Council seems giddy while it spends the surplus as new, costly projects, best described as shiny things, are disclosed almost daily.
There seems little real substance to any of it. Despite two successive years of tragic flooding, Windsor Council appears unwilling to call a state of emergency to address the deteriorating condition of the city’s roads and infrastructure.
Admittedly, though, it is being innovative in some cases, like the concrete lighting pole on Riverside Drive downtown.
The pole appears to be held together with economical electrical tape.
Council’s actions are further lugubrious with its 1% surcharge to cover the costs of a new hospital south of the airport. Spending the surplus to finance the hospital would have reduced the cost to taxpayers by about a third.
Some of Council’s projects include refurbishing a vintage streetcar made elsewhere and possibly bastardizing the inside by turning it into an ice cream stand. No tender was issued and the work was awarded to a Chatham-Kent company.
On its own, the price tag of $750,000 is not all that rich. But, when combined with all the other chasing-of-shiny-things that defines Council, it is adding up fast.
As is usual, there are always consultants lurking in the background. An arch will be built at the entrance to Sandwich Towne. The Windsor Star reported October 10, “… $115,000 will pay for public consultations and consultant fees.”
Much of this free-wheeling spending has attracted the ire of taxpayers.
Some, like Lou Papineau, in a post on the local paper’s October 10 report, agreed the streetcar, “… would be nice to restore it and put it on display. But not to be used as a food truck or anything like that.” Taxpayers, he suspects, do not want, “… the city paying for it because there are countless other ‘more important things to be done before funding anything fun or exciting.’”
Papineau suggests that fun projects should wait until after all the, “… infrastructure work that needs to be done,” is done. Frivolities, he reasons, could best, “… be funded by donations and fundraisers.”