Published on: August 18, 2022, 11:15 am.
Last updated: August 18, 2022, 11:15 am.
Citing the rebound in tourism that followed the pandemic shutdown, the board of directors of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) approved financial rewards for four more executives for the fiscal year ending June 30. These amounted to $287,460 in bonuses and $55,475 in annual salary. grow.
The newly announced raises and bonuses are as follows:
- LVCVA Marketing Director Kate Wik’s annual salary was increased by 5% to $341,470 per year, with a one-time bonus of $121,594.
- Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger’s annual salary was increased by 6% to $257,797, with a one-time bonus of $60,801.
- Chief Operating Officer Brian Yost’s annual salary was increased 7% to $251,510, with a one-time bonus of $58,764.
- Senior Vice President of Communications Lori Nelson-Kraft’s annual salary was increased 4 percent to $212,393, with a one-time bonus of $45,950.
The board said the increases reward executives for securing Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024, creating the Formula 1 Vegas Grand Prix race scheduled for November 2023 and adding nearly 1 million square feet of meeting space to the Las Vegas Convention Center Vegas with the West Room. expansion. (The LVCVA is one of the few U.S. marketing organizations tasked not only with promoting a city as a business and leisure destination but also with managing a convention center.)
Those rewards come in addition to the 10 percent salary increase and 50 percent bonus approved by the board last month for LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill, who now receives $447,608 a year with a one-time bonus of $203,458. Also previously receiving additional compensation was LVCVA General Counsel Caroline Bateman, whose annual salary increased 7 percent to $219,572 with a one-time bonus of $51,302.
LVCVA also gave 4 percent pay raises and one-time bonuses of $2,250 to all of its 240 workers on July 1, at a cost of more than $19 million.
Rebound Tourism Reviewed
According to the LVCVA, a rebound in tourism helped generate record room tax revenue in 2021-22, with $294 million deposited into the LVCVA’s general fund, surpassing the previous high of $286 million in 2019.
However, this number can be misleading. Casinos are making more dollars from players than ever before, but visitor volume — one of the key metrics the LVCVA is tasked with keeping robust — remains below 2019 numbers.
By May 2022, the volume of visitors to Las Vegas totaled 15.25 million people. Convention attendance was approximately two million attendees. In the first five months of 2019, Las Vegas visitor volume totaled over 17.53 million visitors. The volume of the convention totaled three million participants.
The LVCVA is funded by hotel taxes paid by guests during their stay in Clark County. Hotels in the county must collect an effective tax of 13.38% on nightly rates. Most of this money goes to LVCVA.
LVCVA too high?
The LVCVA says it costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year to keep Las Vegas current and attractive at fairs and exhibitions. However, others say the agency is too big.
Just a few years ago, a government agency investigation by Las Vegas Review-Journal found that the authority was ripe for fraud. In 2019, Rossi Ralenkotter, former LVCVA CEO who led the agency from 2004 to August 2018, was charged by Clark County prosecutors with two counts of theft and misconduct in office.
Prosecution followed RJ independent assessment of the agency. It found that $90,000 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by LVCVA were misused by key officials, including Ralenkotter himself. Ralenkotter, then-marketing director Cathy Tull and then-director of business partnerships Brig Lawson were each accused by county prosecutors of using Southwest credits to take personal trips on the agency’s dime. Ralenkotter allegedly used $17,000 worth of vouchers for personal and family travel.
Ralenkotter later pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of battery on a public servant. He served no jail time and was fined $1,000. Local Las Vegas legal experts reviewed the deal.
Despite the scandal, Ralenkotter was handed a comfortable exit package. The LVCVA agreed to retain him as a consultant for $15,000 per month. He also collects an annual state pension of nearly $300,000.