$636K Ontario Summer Games pitch made by Mayor Francis

Essex County is not ready to commit to co-hosting the Ontario Summer Games with Windsor next year.

Essex County Council wants to study Windsor's proposal of 50-50 cost sharing

Leamington Mayor John Paterson says each municipality in Essex County should be responsible for their own interest in the Ontario Summer Games. (istockphoto.com)

Essex County is not ready to commit to co-hosting the Ontario Summer Games with Windsor next year.

Mayor Eddie Francis made an appearance at Wednesday night's county council meeting to request a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement.

The mayor said the city and county would each be responsible for $636,250.

One of the key questions asked by county councillors is where will the money come from, since it's not in the budget.

"We would have to likely fund it over multiple years," said Brian Gregg, the county's chief administrative officer. "There might be an opportunity to withdraw funding from a reserve, but it would need to be repaid back to the reserve over a multiple number of years.

"An amount that big would be equivalent to a one per cent increase on our levy."

County administration will prepare for council a report on different funding options.

That's expected to be ready in three weeks.

Francis said timing is an issue, but it can wait a few more weeks.

He said if the county says no, the number of events held would have to be scaled back.

Francis gave his assurance that 12 of the 22 planned events would be staged in the county.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson is glad to hear that but he's not completely sold on whether the county should spend money co-hosting the games.

"It is my position that this is not an event to be funded regionally, but one that each individual municipality sitting around this table should decide on their own if they're interested," he said. "And if so, be prepared to pony up their local tax dollars to make it happen right in their own backyard. Leamington could very well be one of those interested communities."

Based on the results of summer games hosted by other cities, the economic benefit is estimated by some to be worth around $4 million.

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