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Joklik saying little on state taxes

The leader of the 2002 Winter Games said Monday he's too busy here to deal with the issue of whether Utah taxpayers should help pay for Olympic volunteer, arts and culture, and community programs.

"I've got too much to do," said Frank Joklik, chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. "I have said time and time again for the record . . . expenses will not exceed revenues."But will the volunteer, arts and cul

ture, and community programs be considered expenses or something that the state can use to further its own economic development efforts?

"The key word is Olympic-related," Joklik said. "We include in our budget Olympic needs . . . There will be some provisions made for items of that nature in the budget."

The programs in question are aimed at recruiting the estimated 12,000 volunteers needed for the Games, showcasing the state's arts and culture, and involving Utahns throughout the state in the Salt Lake area event.

Joklik said he was unaware of any changes in how those programs would be funded, then added, "I can't comment on that."

He said he would not "stand here in Nagano trying to guess at these things."

Gov. Mike Leavitt told reporters here this weekend that the state needs to invest in the 2002 Winter Games to take advantage of the attention that will be focused on Utah over the next four years.

Leavitt spoke specifically of spending money on tourism and economic development efforts, but state Olympic coordinator John Fowler said the state would also help fund volunteer, arts and culture, and community outreach programs.

Organizers have always promised they'd cover the cost of staging the 2002 Games without using tax dollars. Their budget, now at more than $1 billion, is being raised from corporate sponsors, television networks and other private sources.

This would mark the first time that tax dollars were being used to pay for items in that budget. Utahns have already contributed $59 million toward building Olympic facilities, money that's due to be repaid by SLOC.

But before leaving Japan Monday, the governor contacted the Deseret News to say that he did not intend to set a new state policy with his comments in Nagano.

Leavitt declined to discuss the details provided by Fowler. "At this point, I made a general statement and at this point, that's all I intended it to be," he said.

"What I intend is for the Games to be organized by the committee with Olympic funds," he said. But the state will "take full advantage" of the economic development activities.

The governor said he would not allow himself to be pushed "to a level of specificity I'm not prepared to get into yet . . . plans are not at that level yet."

The organizing committee is undergoing what Joklik refers to as a "bottoms up" budget review that is expected to provide the greatest level of detail yet on Olympic expenses.

"I'm looking at what will be, in all likelihood, from September on," Fowler said. September is when the overhaul of SLOC's $1 billion-plus budget is due to be completed.