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Utah Not Done Paying for Olympics


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Salt Lake City, UT, July 13 (AP by Paul Foy)–Two days after declaring the Olympics won’t cost taxpayers as much as expected, state Olympic officer Lane Beattie said he will ask the Utah Legislature for more public money.

Beattie told a legislative committee Wednesday that public safety and other government costs for the 2002 Winter Games will fall well below a previous estimate of $31 million.

But the former Senate leader said Utah will have to pay a bigger share than it has already pledged. The Legislature has committed $13 million to help cover policing, snow plowing, garbage pickup and other government services during the games.

Beattie wasn’t ready to offer a new estimate but will disclose the figure in a financial report on the Olympics later this month.

Beattie will tuck a supplemental request in the next state budget that Gov. Mike Leavitt will prepare this fall for the 2001-2002 fiscal year covering the Winter Games.

Beattie’s appearance before the legislative Revenue and Taxation Committee was his first official duty as the newly appointed state Olympic officer.

He was required to report on a public-safety plan under legislation signed by Leavitt in March that waives the sales tax on Olympic tickets.

Beattie stepped down a month ago as president of the Utah Senate to monitor Olympic finances for the governor and Legislature. He was a senator since 1989.

On Monday, Beattie announced that state agencies won’t need all $31 million originally estimated to cover public safety and related expenses for the Winter Games. State money would cover only a portion of that.

He provided the reality check on Wednesday.

“So you’re not coming back to us for more money?” asked Rep. Ray Short, R-Salt Lake City.

“I am coming back to you for more money,” Beattie replied, saying the $13 million won’t be enough.

The government services are not included in the $1.32 billion Olympic budget covered by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

Former Olympic officer John Fowler estimated last year that the Legislature would need to find $31 million for everything from paying police overtime to building new roads.

SLOC later came up with a plan to raise $15 million for government services. The plan involved exempting Olympic tickets from sales tax, freeing $13 million that SLOC President Mitt Romney offered to shift into a public safety fund.

He also agreed to contribute another $2 million to the fund and ask the federal government for more.

That assures Utah of $15 million but leaves millions more unaccounted for and Congress has yet to contribute to this effort.

Olympic organizers, meanwhile, plan to announce Thursday how they will sell 730,000 tickets to the Winter Games. The plan involves a ticket lottery running from Oct. 10 to Dec. 12.

Olympic sponsors, VIPs and national Olympic officials are expected to snap up their full allotment of 900,000 tickets.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press