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Olympic Organizers Trim 2002 Budget


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Salt Lake City, UT (AP by Paul Foy)–After making more budget cuts, Olympic organizers believe a balanced budget is in sight.

“We now feel confident we can balance the budget,” said Fraser Bullock, Salt Lake Organizing Committee chief operating officer. “However, there is a lot of work to do to get there.”

Bullock laid out nearly $21 million in budget savings Monday for a finance committee, including a big cutback in games cancellation insurance and $2 million in interest savings triggered by the relentless budget cutting.

Bullock, following a quarterly review of the Olympic budget, had to add $10 million in spending.

SLOC will build a $168,000 spectator tunnel under a ski track at the Soldier Hollow cross-country venue. It also will add guard rails worth $130,000 at the Utah Winter Sports Park.

In addition to paid and volunteer security, organizers will post uniformed police officers with the power to make arrests inside sports venues for another $500,000.

SLOC still is negotiating to pay copyright royalties for ceremony music, an item that hadn’t been budgeted.

But spending cuts dwarfed additions, as they have for a year since the Olympic bribery scandal broke, making fund-raising more difficult.

The original $1.45 billion Winter Games’ budget stood at $1.319 billion on Monday.

Mitt Romney, who became SLOC president last February, still has $144 million to raise from corporate sponsors.

However, SLOC officials believe they now have every item in their core budget covered.

“If we have a shortage in federal funding or we have what I’ll call `expected surprises’ come up, then we’ll dip into our contingency,” Bullock said. “But in the core budget, we have everything covered.”

Romney brought in Bullock as chief budget officer, and Bullock didn’t stop at his own office when it comes to spending cuts. He listed $440,000 in self-imposed cuts Monday, mostly for consulting services and travel expenses, he said.

Bullock said the organizing committee will save another $500,000 by limiting the distribution of a daily Olympic newspaper during the 17-day games to the athletes’ Olympic Village.

SLOC also will limit volunteers to one complimentary meal a day, although they can buy additional food from SLOC vendor Compass at wholesale prices.

For volunteers, it could have been worse. Organizers had considered making them brown-bag their own lunches.

The thinking was, “Gee, we’re so poor we need volunteers to provide their own meals,” said Bullock, adding that organizers eventually decided not to skimp further on the perks for 30,000 volunteers, ranging from doctors to ushers, who will be recruited for the games.

SLOC, meanwhile, will save $1 million by not doubling its cancellation insurance.

Bullock said $150 million worth of insurance coverage should be sufficient in the unlikely event the games had to be canceled because of a natural disaster or civil unrest.

Bullock said he found another $600,000 in insurance savings by paying the premium now, rather than waiting.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press