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  • Thursday, March 11, 1999

    Olympics chief shaping budget cuts

    BY KRISTEN MOULTON -- Associated Press
     SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mitt Romney, the man now in charge of the committee planning the 2002 Winter Olympics, today announced a hiring freeze, reductions in staff travel and other cuts to save $14 million.
     He also highlighted $84 million worth of expenses -- including extra furniture, decorations, and a planned memorial plaza -- that are not crucial to the Games and should be contingent on revenue.
     In addition, Romney said that from now on the Board of Trustees will not meet at hotels, noting that he was announced as new leader of the scandal-plagued committee at a meeting last month that cost $17,000.
     "I will treat you all to pizza today," he told the group, but said that in the future trustees will have to pay for their own food during board meetings.
     In his first meeting with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's management board, Romney said he has identified $81 million more in expenses that were not written into last year's budget. That was set at $1.45 billion before Salt Lake's vote-influencing scandal surfaced and rocked the Olympic movement.
     Romney said the top priority of the committee from now on will be Olympic sport and the athletes.
     "Profit, pride and pageantry comes second," he said.
     Romney also described how he hopes to raise $67 million more in areas unexplored by the SLOC. For instance, he hopes to propose as many as four new sports to be staged during the games, and hopes groups associated with them will contribute.
     He will also charge the Olympic community a fee for making hotel arrangements, and add a price tag to events that previously would have been free.
     Though he said sponsors are eager to sign contracts and the numbers are already ahead of what Atlanta raised for the 1996 Summer Games, Romney said the committee has to work harder to bring in more money.
     "We need to pull out all the stops," he said.
     Romney also said the SLOC budgeted $3.4 million to spend on members of the IOC, including more than $1 million in a contingency account to cover things like insurance.
     He noted that the SLOC never planned for chauffeur-driven limos for IOC members, who will be transported in new sports utility vehicles donated by General Motors and driven by volunteers.
     "The IOC members do pay for their own hotels, $200 a night, including breakfast," he said.
     Gov. Mike Leavitt, among others, has called for SLOC to reduce the money given to visiting IOC members in 2002 for everything from chauffeurs to hotel-room upgrades.
     Romney has said he is also mindful of repaying a $59 million debt to Utah taxpayers for construction of a bobsled and luge track and speed-skating oval.
     Also on the agenda for today's meeting are recommended changes in board policy regarding open meetings, open records, conflicts of interest and trustee attendance at board meetings. More time will be required to draft a revised ethics policy.
     


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