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Flexible $280M budget approved by LVCVA board

Updated May 26, 2021 - 3:35 pm

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a conservative and flexible $280 million budget for its 2021-22 fiscal year.

LVCVA board members took less than 15 minutes to review and approve the financial plan after having a comprehensive overview in April. No one addressed the board during the required public hearing on the budget.

The convention authority is staying conservative projecting revenue, which comes primarily from room taxes, even though domestic travel to Las Vegas appears on the upswing.

“We’re prepared to move upward if that opportunity arises,” Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger told board members during testimony on the budget.

In a normal year, Finger said, the LVCVA could project $413.6 million in revenue to fund LVCVA salaries, the promotion of the destination, capital projects and other special events.

But 2020-21 has been anything but normal.

In addition to revenue declining from room taxes because of the downturn in visitation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, conventions and trade shows have been nonexistent since March 2020. That means convention center facility charges paid by exhibitors at trade shows have gone away.

The first major trade show to return to Las Vegas will occur in June before the fiscal year begins, but the LVCVA’s calendar next fiscal year is filled with convention customers that plan to return over the 12 months, including CES, the Men’s Apparel Guild in California fashion show, the Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive trade show, the National Hardware Show and the National Association of Broadcasters.

In addition, a variety of special events likely to draw large crowds and bolster room taxes will include the return of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December and the first-ever appearance of the National Football League Pro Bowl and the 2022 NFL Draft.

Large concert appearances also appear up and down the calendar for 2021 and 2022.

Room taxes also should rise with a nine-game home season for the Las Vegas Raiders playing in Allegiant Stadium before full-capacity crowds for the first time.

The LVCVA will have another funding source it never had — fare-box revenue from the Las Vegas Monorail, which the organization acquired out of bankruptcy in December.

One of the big spends for the LVCVA every year is advertising to promote the destination. In 2019, the LVCVA spent $100.3 million for advertising. The ad budget for the new fiscal year is slimmed down to $82 million.

Salaries and benefits are targeted at $10.3 million, compared with a 2019 spend of $13.5 million.

Special events dot the calendar and a holiday that never had any additional spending was the Fourth of July. That changes in the adopted budget with $750,000 allocated because it’s anticipated that the three-day Independence Day long weekend will be the unofficial grand reopening of the destination and local resorts are poised for a big turnout.

A capital project that won’t see any funding in the coming year is the proposed refurbishment of the Las Vegas Convention Centers North, Central and South halls. Originally, the LVCVA had planned to complete the new West Hall, then take each of the other halls offline over two years to make major upgrades.

That plan has been delayed by at least two years, Finger said, as the LVCVA waits out the return of visitors to pre-pandemic levels.

The 2021-22 budget shows the LVCVA will have 412 full-time-equivalent employees — up by seven from last year. To account for the increased number of employees, $598,300 was added to salaries and benefits.

In the 2019-20 fiscal year, there were 494 employees.

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

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