Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Approves Pay Increases, Bonuses
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Board of Directors yesterday approved 4% pay increases for 240 employees, plus one-time bonuses of $2,250 per worker. The expenditures will cost the government agency approximately $19.3 million.
Founded in 1955, the LVCVA owns and manages the Las Vegas Convention Center and is responsible for marketing Southern Nevada as the premier destination for conventions and leisure travel. The agency is primarily funded by hotel occupancy taxes incurred in Clark County.
The pay raises and bonuses for the 240 LVCVA employees stem from the agency’s ongoing labor negotiations with the Service Employees International Union. The labor organization’s Local 1107 chapter represents the authority’s service workers.
The LVCVA Collective Bargaining Agreement reached with the union in 2018 provided such workers with pay increases of 2.8% in both 2019 and 2020. The terms did not mandate an increase in 2021 nor this year but allowed for renegotiations.
The LVCVA board voted unanimously during its meeting yesterday to increase compensation for its service workers by 4%. The LVCVA is set to settle on a new five-year collective bargaining contract with the Service Employees International Union next year.
The LVCVA came under fire in 2017 after the Las Vegas Review-Journal exposed what the media outlet believed was excessive spending. A probe of the agency found that it spent $700,000 on alcohol and $85,000 on showgirls and strippers during a three-year period.
As Casino.org tallied at the time, even at $15 a drink, $700,000 on booze equates to 15,555 drinks a year, all of which were paid for with tax money.
A subsequent audit also turned up questions regarding the misuse of Southwest Airlines gift cards by LVCVA executives, including then-LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter. The agency boss was accused of using more than $17,000 worth of Southwest gift credit for personal trips.
At the time, Ralenkotter was the state’s highest-paid employee, his compensation totaling nearly $1 million a year in pay and benefits. The CEO was eventually charged with two felonies of theft and misconduct by a public officer.
Ralenkotter was handed a lenient sentence through a plea deal that resulted in him admitting guilt to a lesser misdemeanor charge. He was fined $1,000 and agreed to pay $24,406 in fines and restitution.
New Leadership, Same Spending
Ralenkotter was replaced by current LVCVA CEO Steve Hill in 2018. His appointment came after the LVCVA board signed off on providing Ralenkotter with a $53,000 separation agreement, $132,000 performance bonus, and $270,000 post-retirement consulting contract.
Michael Schaus of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a government watchdog, lambasted the severance.
This retirement deal shows that the board is nothing more than a club for cronies,” Schaus opined. “The board had absolutely no obligation to offer any sort of deal, and their decision to use taxpayer money to further enrich someone that has clearly violated that public trust in such an obvious way shows just how unserious the board is about even attempting to be responsible stewards of public dollars.”
Last month, the LVCVA board approved a nearly $400 million budget for its 2022-23 fiscal year. It’s the agency’s richest budget ever.
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