The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will spend more than a quarter of the next fiscal year’s operating budget on advertising Las Vegas as a tourist destination.
The authority’s board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved a $359.8 million operating budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, dedicating $101.5 million to advertising, 1 percent less than spent in the current year.
The authority’s primary mission is to help fill the city’s nearly 150,000 hotel rooms every night by marketing the city with advertising, special events and public relations domestically and internationally. It also runs the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Las Vegas has experienced a decline in monthly visitation over the past 10 months.
The financial plan approved in a special LVCVA board meeting and budget public hearing also addresses the transfer of funds toward the five-year, $1.4 billion Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and renovation project that runs through 2023.
Under the approved budget, the authority will have 538 employees, eight fewer than the current year, as a result of a staff reduction connected to the transfer of Cashman Center to the city.
The LVCVA will end its operation of Cashman Center after this year’s Las Vegas 51s baseball season when the team moves to the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin. The LVCVA also will sponsor the team.
No one addressed the board during the public hearing on the budget.
Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger explained where the authority’s estimated $349.1 million in annual revenue comes and where it’s spent.
About 83 percent of the organization’s revenue comes from Clark County’s tax on hotel rooms, the rate of which varies based on a property’s location. An additional 15 percent is generated by facility charges and services at the Convention Center with the remaining 2 percent coming from other sources.
The passage of Senate Bill 1 by the Nevada Legislature gives the LVCVA an additional 0.5 percentage-point increase in the room tax. The increase is expected to raise $29 million in the next fiscal year to help pay debt service on $200 million in general obligation bonds the LVCVA authorized in April. An additional $500 million in bonds are expected to be sold next year for the project.
About 64 percent of budget expenditures goes to marketing, advertising and special events while 17 percent goes to operations, 9 percent to governing expenses and 10 percent to community support — room tax revenue and gaming fees that are returned to Clark County and Southern Nevada’s municipalities.
The special events budget includes funding for the National Finals Rodeo, the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration, two NASCAR races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the first of 20 $4 million payments toward the Las Vegas Ballpark sponsorship.
Board member and Henderson City Councilman John Marz raised a concern related to budget contributions to Las Vegas Events, a private entity contracted with the LVCVA to develop special events.
Marz said he was concerned about duplication of efforts, especially after Gov. Brian Sandoval established the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee by executive order last month. The new committee has been asked to send a report to Sandoval by Dec. 31 on how Nevada might attract sporting events to the state. The LVCVA and Las Vegas Events would be represented on the committee.
“When I was looking through the budget, I was questioning whether there was duplication in some of the event things that are going on,” Marz said after the meeting. “If there is, maybe we should take a look at it and redefine roles.”