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SLOC looks for help to plan budget

Utah's Olympic organizers now are looking around the world for help figuring out their finances, including spending as much as $1 million on consultants from the most recent Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

Frank Joklik, who took over as the chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee earlier this year, said the assistance is needed to make sure the $1 billion-plus budget for the 2002 Winter Games is sound.Joklik got the SLOC Board of Trustees to agree last week to authorize him to negotiate a contract worth up to $1 million with budget experts from the 1994 Winter Games.

And this week, Joklik is in Sydney, Australia, meeting with officials from the 2000 Summer Games organizing committee to hear firsthand how they're spending their money Down Under.

"Nothing is quite the same as putting on the real Olympic event," said Jerry McClain, hired recently by Joklik as the chief financial officer for the organizing committee.

Organizers hope to hire about a dozen former employees of the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer and bring them to Salt Lake City to go over the budget for 2002.

"We're going to look for other help as well. It's critical," McClain said."We want to have as accurate and as detailed a budget as possible by next summer."

That could mean turning to non-Olympic sources, too, he said.

He's not expecting to get much from the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. "Japan is a little difficult. The language barrier is significant," McClain said. "Culturally, they're not quite as open in sharing the information."

The total cost for the experts hired by the organizing committee won't exceed the $1 million limit already approved, he said, noting Joklik paid his own way to Sydney, where his daughter lives.

At last Thursday's meeting, Joklik said the review by the Norwegian Olympics budget team will "make sure nothing is omitted" in the budget for the 2002 Winter Games.

The review could even end up saving money, he said. "There's a huge store of expertise and information there that could save us many times the expenditure," Joklik told trustees during the board meeting.

The organizing committee already has a consulting contract with Petter Ronnigen, who headed the 1994 Winter Games, widely acknowledged as the best ever. Ronnigen, hired in 1996, earns less than $30,000 a year.

Joklik said the new consulting contract involves other personnel from the 1994 Winter Games and will not affect the organizing committee's arrangement with Ronnigen.

The attention to finances comes as the organizing committee makes the shift to a project-based budget. The new budget will divide the task of putting on the Olympics into hundreds of separate projects.

That way, organizers can track costs all the way through 2002 instead of annually as they have since the Winter Games were awarded to Salt Lake City in 1995. The massive budget overhaul is due to be completed in June 1998.

Organizers believe the new budget will make it easier to live up to their pledge not to spend more money than they can raise from corporate sponsors, television networks, ticket sales and other largely private sources.

A recent financial report shows that the organizing committee has already committed to spend more than $306 million, including the $59 million owed to state and local governments as payment for the state's Olympic facilities.

More than $431 million is due to be paid to the organizing committee, nearly all of it from NBC and other television networks around the world that are paying to broadcast the 2002 Winter Games.