Windsor

Windsor mayoral candidate says city should weigh new investment strategy, mayor calls plan risky

Windsor mayoral candidate Chris Holt says the southwestern Ontario city needs to rethink the way it invests its money, but the mayor calls Holt's plan risky and radical.

Holt says using One Investment could increase city's operating budget by $6 million

Mayoral candidate Chris Holt speaking on his back deck.
Chris Holt offered a new investment plan for the City of Windsor as his first campaign policy announcement from his back deck on Tuesday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Windsor, Ont., mayoral candidate Chris Holt says the city needs to rethink the way it invests its money, but the mayor calls Holt's plan risky and radical.

"Our city is leaving millions of dollars on the table that should be benefiting our community instead," Holt said in a news conference Tuesday on his back deck.

Holt said the city should be utilizing One Investment, a non-profit corporation that, according to its website, provides "investment options that support the needs of Ontario's municipalities."

Holt said $333 million worth of city reserve funds earn less than one per cent a year in interest. He said by using One, it could yield an additional $6 milllion a year, which would equate to a 1.4 per cent increase in the city's operating budget.

"We could have conducted maintenance on an additional 485 kilometres of city roads or we could make three times as many bikeway improvements," Holt said.

But Mayor Drew Dilkens, who has not announced whether he's be running in October's municipal election, called Holt's plan "risky and radical."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens called Holt's plan risky and radical (Jason Viau/CBC)

Dilkens's written statement said what Holt is proposing would "expose taxpayers to more market volatility, increase municipal debts and end up costing more through interest payments than would ever be earned back through investment income."

'Just a choice'

Almos Tassonyi, who lives in Toronto and is an executive fellow of public policy at the University of Calgary, said money being allocated to a One Investment fund would bring a higher return and is a relatively low-risk investment.

"It's got a long track record," he said.

"I don't really see this as a risky prospect. It just has to be considered in the context of the infrastructure financing decisions as well as what's your surplus cash." 

Holt said other Ontario municipalities, such as Markham and Whitby, are able to earn millions on the interest by using One, but Tassonyi said that what fits one municipality doesn't fit all.

 "This is just a choice,"  Tassonyi said.

Any place we can find extra money or we can save costs and reinvest that in things that people want, that's a great discussion to have.- Daniel Ableser

"Any municipality can allocate some monies to one fund and some monies to other vehicles just depending on how they view the timing of when they want to withdraw the funds and invest in infrastructure or whatever other pressures they may have."

Daniel Ableser, who calls himself a city council watcher, said Holt is likely seizing on fiscal issues because he has promised a fully costed platform and he will be creative in finding ways to pay for his ideas.

"I am all for having those debates and any place we can find extra money or we can save costs and re-invest that in things that people want, that's a great discussion to have," Ableser said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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