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Agreement reached on Maccabi Games costs


One month after Towson University played host to an athletic competition for 2,000 Jewish teen-agers, school officials and the games' organizers have finally agreed on how to pay for the event, which cost twice original estimates.

The university and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, which ran the Maccabi Games, have declared them a great success. The five-day event was free of security breaches despite fears that the games, which drew athletes from as far as Israel and Russia, could be a target for terrorists.

But the success did not come without a cost. Baltimore County police say providing security cost $195,000 in overtime by officers - absorbing more than 75 percent of the department's budget for anti-terrorism operations.

Police measures included closing ramps to the Baltimore Beltway as a caravan of athletes traveled to a party at Arundel Mills mall and again for a trip to the Washington Holocaust Museum. Sharpshooters manned overpasses as a precaution.

The Jewish Community Center doesn't have to reimburse the county; the Police Department also bears the cost of covering events such as parades and the State Fair in Timonium, police spokesman Bill Toohey said.

Reimbursement was a source of tension between the university and the JCC, however.

Last winter, Towson University estimated that, after donating the use of its facilities and some staff time, it would need to ask the center to pay about $79,000 for other costs. In July, the university said that figure would surpass $180,000.

After the JCC "screamed bloody murder" about the increase, said Towson Associate Vice President Bob Giordani, the two sides have agreed on a reimbursement of $137,000.

"We believe this is a pretty accurate bill of what our costs are," Giordani said.

Joseph Meyerhoff II, the games' co-chairman, said this week that the bill was more than expected, but acceptable.

"We were charged a fair price for the services that were rendered to us," he said. "Everyone came out a winner in a very difficult period of time as far as security and other issues go."

The two parties had signed a contract under which Towson waived the rental fee it charges groups to use its facilities, estimated at $37,000 for five days. University officials say they saw the waiver - which the school also has granted the Special Olympics - as a way to win positive publicity and raise its profile among the athletes, 460 of whom were from Maryland.


The contract also called for the JCC to reimburse the university for costs it incurred, such as overtime for campus police and other employees. To cover those and other costs, organizers won corporate sponsors, held a fund-raising concert and collected a registration fee from athletes.

Towson University reduced the bill from the July estimate of $182,480 by withdrawing a charge for the salary of three staff members who worked full time for several weeks preparing for the games. The center also persuaded the university to do without some expensive security precautions, such as snow fencing around buildings.

The $137,000 bill that Towson will shortly send the Jewish Community Center includes $32,588 for overtime worked by campus police and $33,377 for overtime by facilities-management workers.

Police costs minimized

Toohey said the county police cost was minimized by not allowing officers to take personal leave those days and by reassigning some officers to work at the games, which included a few events at the Park School and Goucher College. County police were aided by FBI agents and state police, he said.

Out of concern for the safety of the athletes, organizers did not seek much advance publicity for the games, which were off-limits to the public. But Towson spokeswoman Susanna Craine said the university's investment had been worthwhile because it earned it good will among participants.

"Our thought was that this was a community that we wanted to introduce to our campus," she said.

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