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STATE WON’T BE ASKED TO HELP FUND CELEBRATION

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Leaders of the Utah Statehood Centennial Commission said they won't ask lawmakers after all to help fund the yearlong celebration of the state's 100th birthday, a party that wasn't supposed to cost taxpayers anything.

"I don't think frankly there is much support in the Legislature right now" because the commission had pledged not to use tax dollars, said Rep. Jordan Tanner, R-Provo. Tanner, a commission member, supported the $500,000 request.The decision not to seek money from the Legislature was reported to commission members Wednesday during a two-hour meet-ing that included complaints about inaccurate media reports of centennial finances.

Harris Simmons, chairman of the commission finance committee and head of Zions Bank, provided the commission with updated revenue and expense figures.

It's "appearing at this point we can be self-sufficient," Simmons told the commission. Asked by Commissioner Alex Hurtado whether the Legislature should be asked for money anyway, Simmons answered, "I would not think it was necessary."

The revised budget projection shows that even though revenues are down - by more than $116,000 as of December - the commission should still end the year in the blackbecause expenses are also down.

The largest drop in revenues is expected to be in the amount raised from a gala at the Delta Center held Jan. 4, the state's 100th anniversary. Instead of $313,000, the revised budget estimates $252,915 will be collected.

Revenues from the sale of centennial license plates are also lower than originally budgeted. Although the commission hoped to earn $731,175, they now expect to fall $73,300 short of that goal.

And although operating expenses are anticipated to be slightly higher for the budget year, the amount of grants allocated for centennial projects throughout the state is expected to go from $533,632 to $186,838.

About three weeks ago, Commission Chairman Steve Studdert said the $500,000 would be used to cover administrative costs and to ensure "the centennial is something the state can be proud of and not embarrassed about."

Then, Studdert wouldn't answer questions about the commission's budget when asked by the Deseret News to explain the need for the state appropriation. He has since declined to be interviewed by the reporter assigned by the Deseret News to cover the commission.

Studdert told commissioners Wednesday there have been "substantial mischaracterizations" about the budget in the media. Contrary to those reports, the budget is "not murky but 100 percent in order," he said.

"This commission ought to be applauded for its extraordinary fiscal responsibility, not attacked," Studdert said, noting that only one other state, Montana, marked its centennial without tax dollars.

The eight-year-old commission had pledged to raise the money needed to pay for events from the sale of commemorative license plates and royalites from the use of the centennial logo.

"The Centennial Commission is committed to support the centennial with funds from sources other than state taxes," according to the commission's own annual report from 1994.

Also during Wednesday's meeting, Studdert addressed concerns raised about the exclusion of ethnic and religious minorities from centennial events, calling them "baseless."

He said a list of grants given to organizations celebrating the contributions of the state's minority populations will be released soon.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Centennial budget: UTAH STATEHOOD

FISCAL CALENDAR

YEAR YEAR

1996 Budget Revised Revised

Projections Budget Budget

Beginning Cash $748,642 $748,642 $79,302

Revenues $1,374,171 $1,036,670 $393,000

Expenses ($1,988,601) ($1,706,010) ($376,750)

Ending Cash $134,212 $79,302 $95,552

NOTE: Fiscal year goes through June 30, 1996

Calendar year June 30,1996 through Dec. 31, 1996