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Why wait to spend?

I feel great. I am part of a large group that recently won the lottery. Well, maybe we didn’t exactly win the lottery but we were presented with $15 million to be divided among us. All we have to do now is decide what to do with the cash.
I feel great. I am part of a large group that recently won the lottery.  Well, maybe we didn’t exactly win the lottery but we were presented with $15 million to be divided among us.  All we have to do now is decide what to do with the cash.
When I first heard TBayTel was about to hand over $15 million to the City of Thunder Bay I was overjoyed.  My initial reaction was, “Don Campbell for Mayor!”  Prospective candidates take note.  This is what taxpayers like.
For years now this city has been getting large cash infusions from our own, city-owned telephone department. Since 2004 this has amounted to over $130 million.   For the next few years we are budgeted to get another $17 million a year. That’s a lot of phone calls. It looks like all those irritating cell phone users are finally paying dividends.
But this year is special. This year, above and beyond everything else, Mr. Campbell and the good people at the phone company are kicking in an extra $15 million. With municipal elections set for this fall, Thunder Bay taxpayers should have one question for the candidates. What are you going to do with all that money?
Right now the money is supposed to go into a reserve fund to assist with “financial flexibility and/or operating budget stability in future years.” I don’t like the sounds of that.  I say spend it now. 
I shudder to think how quickly that money will be piddled away if it gets into the wrong hands. It will be gone in a flash, wasted on consultant fees and cost overruns for Marina Park. Let’s buy something nice for ourselves right now. 
If we must put some of the money in a reserve fund I think the first $17 million should be plenty. The bonus $15 million is different. This money wasn’t expected or budgeted for. It’s found money, like we were walking down the street and we found a big wad of cash.  We can do anything we like with it.  And so we should.
Huge burden
It must be a huge burden for mayor and council, having all that extra money to spend in a responsible manner. There’s only one thing to do.  Let’s spend it in an irresponsible manner. Here are some suggestions just to get the ball rolling.
Why don’t we use the money to buy everyone in the city a nice, warm Thunder Bay jacket.   Who doesn’t feel good wearing a nice, new jacket, especially one you get free from City Hall? Maybe we could get those club jackets they used to wear on Happy Days or those shiny, silky ones like the jackets from Planet Hollywood.
Or, maybe we could use the money to increase voter turnout in the next election.  Take a million of those bonus bucks and set up a lottery.  Anybody who votes in the next election would be automatically entered in the draw. I’m pretty sure a chance at a million dollars will get more taxpayers interested in voting.
And just to make sure everybody is paying attention to what the politicians are promising, we could throw in an extra hundred grand if the lottery winner happened to vote for the election winner. That way,  voters will be encouraged to ask potential councillors that all-important question: where’s the money?
I saved the best for last. Let’s just divide the money evenly among all residents of the city and send everybody a cheque.
I figured it out and it works out to about $125 per person.
Coincidentally that’s just about enough to buy a new jacket.  It’s a lot less than $15 million but that’s the only way we’ll ever see a dime of those windfall profits.
And here’s the best part.  Most of that money would be spent almost immediately and the result would be a multi-million dollar injection of cash into our local economy almost overnight.  When was the last time that happened around here?
Never underestimate the power of good will. Gestures like this could give the whole city a much needed boost.
In the end I think the best use of this money right now is whatever the taxpayers, not the councillors, of this city would most like to spend it on.  And if that happens to be something frivolous, so be it.  We deserve something nice.
After all, whose money is it anyway?

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