Utahns could get a chance to voice their opinions next year on Salt Lake City hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics, but officials say it's too early to decide whether citizens should be able to vote on public funding for the Games.
At an executive committee meeting of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee Thursday, some members agreed to a November 1989 referendum on the issue, if the city secures the U.S. Olympic Committee bid this spring.Businessman Mike Leavitt, chairman of group's communications committee, said it appeared the group agreed the referendum should gauge philosophical support for the Games. No mention was made of public money for the Olympics.
Questioned about the referendum's wording, Executive Committee Chairman Tom Welch said, "It's too early to put words in as to what the referendum should say."
"Whatever the referendum is, I want it to be complete. The one thing we want to be sure we do in this process is be very open," he added.
Olympic officials are not yet sure of the scope of a referendum vote. "There's a very good chance that it (the referendum) could not be statewide," said Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, also an executive committee member.
A November 1989 election would not occur in conjunction with a general election which is governed by state law. The election would likely be left up to municipalities, he said. Some could choose to put the Olympic question on their ballots and some could not.
The group also began assembling a budget to pay for the bidding process. Welch said the process would cost roughly $150,000 while Finance Committee Chairman Harris Simmons said it could cost more than $200,000.
"We have a pretty high level of confidence that we can raise it (the money) privately," said Simmons, a local bank official.
Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis had said the city might contribute funds to the bidding process. But Mike Zuhl, DePaulis' chief of staff, said based on Simmons' confidence, there is a "strong likelihood" the city will not have to contribute.
Finance member and developer Kem Gardner said the group should aim to solicit $1,000 from 200 business to establish a "broad base of support" for the Games.