The Salt Lake City Council officially took a stand in support of the city's U.S. bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics Tuesday but couldn't agree on spending public money to send council members to a crucial Olympics meeting.
The council passed a resolution supporting the efforts of the Salt Lake Winter Games Organizing Committee and said the Olympics would bring long-term economic, cultural and social benefits to the state."Preparing for the Winter Games will unite Utahns in a common purpose, improve our civic pride and provide to our residents . . . an opportunity to . . . be inspired by Olympic competition," the resolution read.
But when the council discussed going to a June meeting of the U.S. Olympic Committee in Des Moines, Iowa, where the city to bid internationally for the games will be chosen, the council couldn't agree on how to pay for the journey.
Organizing Committee Chairman Tom Welch asked Council Chairman W.M. "Willie" Stoler if some council members would attend the meeting to show support among government officials for the Olympic bid.
Mike Zuhl, mayoral chief of staff, told the council, "I think it's pretty clear we'd like the council to be there."
Council Executive Director Cindy Gust-Jenson said expenditures per council member would total $866. The council's small travel budget contains $2,200, she said, which could be bolstered with funds from other accounts.
"I think we'd be better off if we paid our own way," said Councilwoman Roselyn Kirk.
But other council members objected. Councilwoman Florence Bittner, noting her salary as a councilwoman amounts to the equivalent of $2.30 per hour, said "I will go, but I will not pay my own way. If I'm worth being there, I'm worth $800."
The council considered sending only some members to the meeting and paying expenses partly with council and private funds, but did not reach agreement on the issue.
The organizing committee chartered a plane and reserved 40 seats to take supporters to the USOC meeting. Those members, however, will pay their own air fare, although Welch said for some the cost could be deferred.