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Money's tight, but SLOC approves raises

Salt Lake Organizing Committee employees can count on receiving pay raises despite the 2002 Winter Games' financial crunch.

A 3 percent pay increase has been budgeted for SLOC's 220 regular employees. And for the first time, top management will also see a boost in their paychecks. The raises are based entirely on merit.There had been talk of not giving out any increases because of the budget difficulties faced by the organizing committee since the scandal surrounding the bid for the 2002 Winter Games surfaced late last year.

But Ed Eynon, senior vice president of human resources for SLOC, said management just couldn't do that. "We thought that would be so fundamentally horrible," Eynon said.

Because money is tight, the organizing committee is operating under a hiring freeze. SLOC has 77 fewer staffers than planned, a total of 237 including temporary workers.

"The (amount of) work hasn't changed," Eynon said. "You're working your people harder, and they've gone through a very tough time."

Still, he said, the pay increase is below the market average of just over 4 percent. And last year, SLOC employees received a 4.5 percent hike that was in line with what other companies offered.

The word went out Wednesday about the size of this year's raise. "People by and large have been pretty good about it," Eynon said. "Obviously, they'd like more, (but) they understand."

He said giving 3 percent instead of the 4-plus percent average is saving SLOC some $750,000. Budget concerns are being spelled out at employee meetings about the raises and other personnel issues.

"We do pro-actively say that it's below market and ask them, 'Why do you think it would be below market?' " Eynon said. "We're not trying to fool them at all."

Thursday, members of the SLOC Management Committee were told about the pay increases and asked to approve the same raise for the organizing committee's officers. The approval came after closed-door discussion.

Those raises add up to $35,000, Eynon said, and were offered to nine top employees. But SLOC President Mitt Romney has agreed not to be paid until the Games are over, and then only if they're a financial success.

And his No. 2 position, SLOC Chief Operating Officer Fraser Bullock, chose not to accept the raise. Bullock started recently at a salary about $50,000 less than the $250,000 organizers expected to have to pay.

Raises will go to the five senior vice presidents: Eynon; Shelley Thomas, public communications; Grant Thomas, venues; Bill Wagner, operations; and Kelly Flint, legal and marketing.

Two vice presidents will also see an increase, Cindy Gillespie, federal relations, and Mark Lewis, marketing and licenses. The $35,000 also includes slight increases for two unnamed members of management, Eynon said.

In other action Thursday, the management committee:

-- Agreed to buy software organizers had hoped would be donated. Romney said organizers are looking for a company willing to cover the costs of the software as part of its sponsorship.

He said a sponsorship deal that would have provided SLOC with the software for free was in the works but fell through after an international level Olympic sponsor objected.

Companies pay tens of millions of dollars to support the Olympics at either the national or international level in exchange for the right to advertise themselves as an exclusive sponsor of a particular category.

-- Added seven events for the 2002 Winter Games. Organizers hope more events will increase revenue -- and perhaps even produce more gold medals for American athletes.

The events are women's bobsled, men's and women's skeleton, men's and women's cross country ski sprints and men's and women's 1,500-meter short-track speed skating.

-- Approved a $150 daily housing allowance for athletes who prefer to stay in one of a dozen residences in Park City and Heber City that are closer to skiing events instead of the Olympic Village at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.