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SLOC’s in an expansion mode

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More staff. More office space. More money.

Organizers of the 2002 Winter Games plan to spend some $2.5 million over the next six months expanding their staff and even more to lease additional office space through the Olympics."We're going through a heavy-duty metamorphosis," said Mark Tanner, chief financial officer for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. "We're trying to bring in the doers right now."

The number of new employees approved by the SLOC Board of Trustees this month will nearly double the staff. But, Tanner said, Olympic bosses had initially asked for even more.

"There's sort of an anxiety that sets in, (the realization) we've got to get this work done," Tanner said. He's compared it to what it's like to be in charge of putting on a wedding reception or a family re-union.

"You want to make sure everyone has a good time - and that you can pay all the bills," Tanner said during a recent presentation to lawmakers. He assured them that Olympic organizers intend to do both.

Being able to pay all the bills, however, meant having to trim about 40 percent from the original list of new hires submitted to Tanner. SLOC expects to have 145 employees by the end of the year.

Right now, there are 82 people on the payroll, although several new hires already have been announced. The new hires will earn an average salary of about $67,000, Tanner said.

Many will be midlevel managers. Organizers have been under pressure for some time by the International Olympic Committee to hire a sports director to oversee preparations for a record 70 medal competitions.

Other top-level jobs that remain to be filled include finding someone to run the Paralympics, the international sports competition for disabled athletes held after the Olympics.

There has to be a place to put all these people, and Tanner convinced SLOC trustees to sign a lease through 2002 on 54,000 square feet in the office building next door.

SLOC offices are already spread across the second and sixth floor of an office building at 257 E. 200 South, a lease that will end up costing $3.3 million.

The price tag for the new office space at 275 E. 200 South is $2.9 million. The three floors and the basement may or may not be enough to handle the additional staff needed through the Games.

The decisions on hiring new employees and leasing new office space were made even though organizers have yet to finish a major overhaul of their $1 billion-plus budget.

The budget project, being done with the help of a consulting firm that's earning $750,000, is expected to be finished this fall and made public in October.

The last annual budget approved by trustees ended June 30, so Tanner got them to authorize expenditures of more than $27 million total through the end of the year.

Besides new employees and the new lease, the interim budget also includes nearly $12 million toward the cost of readying the Utah Winter Sports Park and other venues for the Games.