Balloonapalooza said to be in jeopardy
The popular now-annual Balloonapalooza in Windsor could be in jeopardy, says the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association.
It's to be held in conjunction with the International Children's Games, which begin in two weeks.
The chairman of the BIA claims funding has been cut because of changes made by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. It has ended casino contributions to the business improvement association, says chairman Larry Horwitz.
The casino in 2012 said it wanted to reduce its contribution to the BIA gradually over the next two years — from $315,000 down to zero.
At that time, Horwitz told CBC News the BIA and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission agreed to a an annual levy of $245,000 in 2012 and 2013. After that, was up in the air.
Horwitz says a change would mean the DWBIA would lose $240,000. He says that's about 30 per cent of its budget.
It helps fund events like Balloonapalooza, the cleaning of city streets and providing free WiFi in the downtown core.
Horwitz says that's all in jeopardy unless he can convince Mayor Eddie Francis to provide money from the funds the city receives from OLG.
Reached in an overseas airport Thursday as he returns from a business trip to Europe, Francis told CBC news one thing
Horwitz needs to know is that OLG may be increasing the city's funding share but it's also cutting the money it provided to pay for policing in the casino district:
"Larry's got to calm down. He's got to get the facts," Francis said.
The OLG earlier this year improved the funding formula for the City of Windsor for hosting a casino in the community. Communities are now paid percentages of a casino's revenue.
Under the old formula, the City of Windsor received three separate annual payments. They included $4.7 million in lieu of property tax; $1.8 million to pay for 20 police officers; and a $2.6-million "hosting fee."
Under the new formula, and based on last year's Caesars Windsor revenue, Windsor would have received an $11-million payment.
Francis said he'll meet with Horwitz once the agreement with OLG is finalized. But chances of getting a share of the funding is unlikely, he said.
"They receive money from the Windsor Tunnel Commission, they receive money from multiple sources, including their own members," Francis said.
The downtown BIA's annual budget is just under $900,000.