Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Approves Pay Increases, Bonuses

Posted on: June 15, 2022, 08:01h. 

Last updated on: June 16, 2022, 03:43h.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Board of Directors approved 4% pay increases for 240 employees yesterday, plus one-time bonuses of $2,250 per worker. The expenditures will cost the government agency approximately $19.3 million.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority LVCVA
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is responsible for the casino town’s marketing and brand messaging, such as this “What Happens Here, Only Happens Here” sign on Fremont Street. The LVCVA has agreed to increase pay for 240 service workers by 4% in 2022. (Image: R&R Partners)

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 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.

Lavish Spending

The LVCVA came under fire in 2017 after the Las Vegas Review-Journal exposed what the media outlet believed was excessive spending. The agency’s probe found that it spent $700,000 on alcohol and $85,000 on showgirls and strippers over three years.

As 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 raised 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 of Southwest gift credit for personal trips.

Ralenkotter was the state’s highest-paid employee at the time, his compensation totaling nearly $1 million yearly 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.