Panel recommends 8 percent raise, 50 percent bonus for LVCVA chief

After the year Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter had, it wasn’t a matter of whether he’d be offered a raise for the 2014-15 fiscal year, but how much the increase would be.

On Thursday, the compensation committee of the authority’s board of directors recommended an 8 percent raise and a 50 percent bonus for Ralenkotter.

If approved, it would be the largest raise ever granted by the board that markets Las Vegas. Last year, the committee and the full board approved an 8 percent salary increase and a 40 percent bonus for Ralenkotter.

The proposal means Ralenkotter’s annual salary would increase by $23,679 a year to $319,663, with a bonus of $147,992 for total annual compensation of $467,655.

By comparison, Ralenkotter’s proposed $319,663 base salary is higher than the bases of Gov. Brian Sandoval ($149,152), Clark County School Superintendent Pat Skorkowski ($216,504), University of Nevada, Las Vegas head basketball coach Dave Rice ($288,825) and UNLV head football coach Bobby Hauck ($144,413), according to the Transparent Nevada website that tracks salaries of public officials.

The committee was told that Ralenkotter’s proposed salary would be below the average pay received by the top seven convention and visitor authority executives in the country.

Mark Olson, senior vice president of human resources for the authority, said the average pay is $534,650 for the seven chief executives of convention authorities in Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla.

Olson added that Ralenkotter has more responsibilities than his peers because the Las Vegas operation includes management of two buildings, the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center, in addition to marketing the destination. In most cities, those responsibilities are split.

The four-person committee unanimously recommended the increase, which will be considered by the full board at its July 8 meeting.

The committee praised Ralenkotter for his efforts in increasing visitation to Southern Nevada to record levels, for launching the process of transforming the Las Vegas Convention Center into the Las Vegas Global Business District and for his role in securing a 10-year contract to keep the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Ralenkotter thanked the committee and said his executive team contributed to the authority’s success.

Committee member Charles Bowling, president and chief operating officer of Mandalay Bay, told Ralenkotter his leadership is being recognized and rewarded.

“That’s what good coaches do,” Bowling said of his leadership, “and you’re a good coach.”

The compensation committee also recommended a raise for the authority’s legal counsel, Luke Puschnig.

The committee followed Ralenkotter’s recommendation to give Puschnig a 5 percent base salary increase and a 25 percent bonus in the next fiscal year.

That means his salary would increase to $157,859 with a bonus of $35,818.

Ralenkotter said Puschnig took on complex legal dealings to acquire property around the Convention Center for the planned expansion.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.