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Chris Jones
 

Convention Authority Board Votes Unanimously to Raise Top Exec's Pay

11 February 2004

LAS VEGAS -- The top executive of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Tuesday quietly received a $9,360 annual pay raise and $23,400 bonus for his role in leading the city's tourism industry through a struggling U.S. economy and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

With almost no discussion, the convention authority board voted 11-0 in favor of the increased compensation for Manny Cortez, who has served as the organization's president and chief executive officer since 1991.

Cortez's new pay scale, which amounted to a 4 percent raise from his prior base salary of $234,000 per year, took effect immediately retroactive to Jan. 1. The performance bonus was based on 10 percent of Cortez's 2003 pay rate. He also receives a $750 monthly car allowance.

The convention authority's three-member compensation committee on Jan. 29 recommended the pay raise and bonus. At the time, board members Donald "Pat" Shalmy and Jim Gibson cited Cortez's strong leadership as evidenced by the city's recent tourism growth.

On Tuesday, Research Director Kevin Bagger said Las Vegas hosted approximately 35.5 million visitors last year, up 1.3 percent compared with 2002. Citywide occupancy rates averaged around 85 percent last year, easily outpacing the U.S. average of 59.1 percent, he added.

The board also unanimously approved the committee's request to increase the maximum salary range for the convention authority president by 7 percent to $250,380 per year.

Mark Olson, the authority's vice president of human resources, said the range increase was warranted after he reviewed three recent executive salary surveys that showed leaders in positions similar to Cortez's earn an average of $277,261 a year. While Cortez's 2004 pay scale was still well below that average, Olson said he felt the range increase was reasonable.

"At my expense," Cortez joked about the perceived slight.

Quipped board member Don Snyder: "We're going to miss you around here, Mark."