The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Board of Directors this afternoon rewarded its President and Chief Executive Steve Hill with a considerable raise and a lofty one-time bonus.
The LVCVA board agreed that Hill’s performance leading the government agency through and out of the pandemic warranted higher compensation and a large gratuity. The board signed off on increasing Hill’s annual salary by about 10% — or $40,602 — to $447,608 a year.
Hill was also approved to collect a one-time bonus of more than $203,400. The bonus equates to 50% of Hill’s earlier agreed-upon 2022 salary.
The LVCVA is tasked with marketing Las Vegas as a premier business and leisure destination. The agency’s board said the pay increase and bonus were recommended by the LVCVA’s Compensation Committee and were arrived at based on Hill’s “overall performance, market data, and the accomplishment of the fiscal year 2022 goals.”
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is funded by hotel tax dollars guests pay during their stays in Clark County. Hotels within the county must collect an effective tax of 13.38% on nightly charges. Most of that money goes to the LVCVA.
The LVCVA says it costs hundreds of millions of dollars each year to keep Las Vegas current and enticing to trade shows and exhibitions. Others say the agency is too large.
It was only a few years ago that a probe of the government agency by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that the authority was ripe with fraud. In 2019, Rossi Ralenkotter, the LVCVA’s former CEO who led the agency from 2004 through August 2018, was charged by Clark County prosecutors with two felony counts of theft and misconduct of a public officer.
The criminal investigation came after the RJ’s independent review of the agency. That found $90,000 worth of Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by the LVCVA were improperly used by key officials, including Ralenkotter himself. Ralenkotter, then-Chief Marketing Officer 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 the vouchers for personal and family trips.
Ralenkotter later pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of violation of a public officer. He served no prison time and was fined $1,000. Local Las Vegas legal experts panned the deal.
To have him plead to a misdemeanor looks like a sweetheart deal to me. I’m not sure how this instills the public’s confidence,” Todd Leventhal, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, said in 2019.
Despite the scandal, Ralenkotter was handed a cozy exit package on his way out. The LVCVA agreed to keep him on retainer as a consultant for $15,000 a month. He also collects a nearly $300,000 annual state pension.
Las Vegas Rebound
Casinos are winning more dollars from gamblers than ever before, but visitor volume — one of the key metrics the LVCVA is tasked with keeping robust — remains below 2019 numbers.
Through May, 2022 visitor volume in Las Vegas totaled 15.25 million people. Convention attendance was about two million attendees.
Through the first five months of 2019, Las Vegas visitor volume totaled more than 17.53 million guests. Convention volume totaled three million attendees.
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