Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson said Tuesday the $35,000 in tax dollars already spent on the city's summer trek to Torino, Italy, will be paid back to city coffers through private contributions.
That means no tax dollars will have been spent on the trip, during which Anderson delivered his Olympic message on peace, youth and the environment.
The private contributions were raised by the mayor prior to the journey, for the purpose of paying for the trip, but the total costs were not known until Tuesday.
"Now that all the expenses are in, we have enough to make up for that," Anderson said of the $35,000.
Monday, that proposition didn't seem likely. Deputy Mayor Rocky Fluhart told the Deseret Morning News he didn't expect the city would be reimbursed for the tax dollars spent on the trip.
Prior to Fluhart's revelation, some City Council members had been asking questions about the accounting of the tax dollars especially since Anderson's girlfriend Tracy Lyon, Fluhart's wife and another couple Anderson says are friends were included on the European leg of the trip. The entire group had meals and rooms paid for out of the same fund.
Council members wanted to know how the tax funds were used in comparison to private dollars and whether those tax dollars would have been needed if Anderson's friends hadn't had some of their expenses reimbursed.
City Councilman Dale Lambert said he would ask his staff to research the accounting to determine if city funds were used to reimburse non-city employees. His concerns, however, were largely based on Fluhart's comments that city tax dollars would not be paid back. Councilman Dave Buhler said the council might want to develop some stricter reporting of how private donations are spent by the administration.
"How do we handle this whole private donations situation and the accounting?" Buhler asked.
The City Council already has asked for an audit of the way Anderson used private donations to pay for the Celebration of Life monument at Library Square. The $600,000 monument is supposed to be paid for by the end of the year, but about $300,000 was still needed as of last month. The fear was the the city, or the city's library system, would be on the hook for the potential shortfall.
Tuesday, the administration spent the day working up a full accounting of the Torino trip. Anderson's office provided a final financial report to the Deseret Morning News.
The total delivery budget was $171,000 with private contributions slated to cover $136,000 of the costs and the $35,000 in tax dollars funding the rest. But in the end, the trip cost only $135,714.55, according to that accounting.
Most of that bill $90,000 went to Dunn Communication, which provided public relations for the project and made a documentary video. Another $40,684 went to reimburse team members for their expenses. The rest was for miscellaneous expenses. The major private sponsors included the George S. & Delores Dore Eccles Foundation, the Willard Eccles Foundation and Devine Racing, which manages the Salt Lake City Marathon.
The accounting didn't make clear which expenses were paid for with city tax dollars and which ones were paid by sponsor dollars. However, Anderson said that is a moot point since all the city money will be paid back.
It is tradition for the previous Olympic Winter Games host to deliver a message on peace, youth and the environment to the next host of the Winter Games. According to that tradition, the message has to be delivered by environmentally friendly transportation that doesn't burn greenhouse gases.In April, the message was taken by bicycle from Salt Lake City to New York, by sailboat from New York to Belgium, and then by bicycle across Europe to Torino. Anderson and Lyon joined the group in France on July 19. The crew spent the next 12 days biking though the French Alps and northern Italy en route to Torino.