Proposal calls for LVCVA chief to get $100K raise, $128K bonus

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s compensation committee was in a generous mood Monday, recommending an increase in President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter’s salary that would put him in the top 20 of Nevada’s public officials.

The four-member committee unanimously approved a recommendation for a $100,000 salary increase and a one-time $127,862 bonus that would put his total annual compensation at $497,516.

That is above average compensation for a head of a destination marketing organization but less than the top salary offered in the industry, $584,719.

Ralenkotter also is in an unusual circumstance in that the Convention and Visitors Authority not only markets the destination but also manages its largest convention center. In most locations, those responsibilities are split.

The recommendation for the 31.2 percent increase will go to the full board of directors for consideration on Sept. 8.

“After several years of digging out of the recession, I think it’s the right time to recognize Rossi’s achievements,” said Chuck Bowling, chief operating officer of Mandalay Bay and chair of the committee.

Under the recommendation, Ralenkotter’s raise would be retroactive to July 5 and would be implemented in two $50,000 raises, one out of the current fiscal year and one from the next year.

Transparent Nevada, a website operated by the Nevada Policy Research Institute that publishes the annual salaries of Nevada public officials, says Ralenkotter’s compensation package also includes $107,716 in other benefits. The increase recommended by the committee would bump him into the top 20 among the state’s public employees. The state’s three highest-paid employees are professors at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The committee also recommended a 10.2 percent increase for the authority’s legal counsel, Luke Puschnig. Ralenkotter evaluated Puschnig and requested an increase in excess of the authority’s 7.5 percent increase guidelines because he was one of the architects of the authority’s acquisition of the Riviera property earlier this year. The authority will use the land to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center campus.

The recommendation for Puschnig’s compensation would increase his annual base salary from $162,864 to $179,476. In addition, he would receive a one-time $40,716 bonus.

That recommendation, unanimously approved by the committee, also will be considered by the full board Sept. 8.

Ralenkotter outlined his 2016 goals:

* To prioritize the authority’s leadership and involvement in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee to ensure success for a long-term strategic plan for the renovation and expansion of the convention center.

* To ensure a long-term financial sustainability plan.

* To increase business and convention visitation as a share of overall destination visitation to 12.5 percent or higher.

* To develop and launch a Las Vegas “China Ready” program.

* To research, design and present new business model options for the Convention Center and Cashman Center food and beverage contract.

* To expand leadership and involvement in national and local advocacy issues with the U.S. Travel Association, the U.S. Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and the American Gaming Association.

* To target air carriers in Oceania, South America and Latin America for growth into Las Vegas.

In a separate committee meeting, the Las Vegas Convention Center District committee reviewed plans to amend its professional services contract with Cordell Corp. for the Convention Center expansion.

Among the proposals is to inventory hazardous materials at the Riviera site, which the authority purchased earlier this year.

The committee agreed to meet again before making a recommendation. But under current plans, the remediation of hazardous materials could push back demolition of the Riviera.

Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of operations, said a target date for the Riviera’s demolition won’t be determined until after workers have investigated the extent of hazardous materials. He added that he is relatively certain it won’t occur by January, the latest estimated time the authority has presented.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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