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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Las Vegas Board Approves Largest Budget

20 May 2005

LAS VEGAS -- With no fanfare and very little discussion, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board on Thursday approved the largest general fund budget in the organization's 50-year history.

For the 2005-06 fiscal year beginning July 1, the agency tasked with marketing Las Vegas' leisure and business travel expects to take in more than $227 million in revenue, up 5.7 percent from the current fiscal year. The bulk of that increase will be driven by a 6.9 percent gain in room and gaming taxes, which project to nearly $185 million.

Expenditures are also expected to hit a record level next year, excluding periods when major construction projects temporarily required increased outlays. The authority plans to spend $187.9 million next year, up 3.4 percent from its current budget. That includes a more than $80 million advertising budget coupled with $34.2 million in marketing expenses.

Finance Director Brenda Siddall said next year's revenue stream should grow thanks to the combination of more hotel rooms, increased occupancy and higher room rates in Southern Nevada.

Clark County will end this year with approximately 148,000 hotel and motel rooms, including properties in Mesquite and Laughlin. During the coming fiscal year, 3,000 more are expected to open, including the debut of the new tower at Caesars Palace, the South Coast and Red Rock Station, Siddall said.

Overall occupancy is expected to jump slightly to 88.8 percent, while the average daily room rate is expected to reach $75.60, up 2.8 percent.

The board in March approved plans for an approximately $400 million renovation and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is owned and operated by the authority. But President Rossi Ralenkotter said Thursday that the project won't significantly affect the authority's budget until fiscal 2006-07.

The authority hopes to fill 10 new positions next year at an initial cost of $521,300 per year. Those jobs include a supervisor and two clerks for a proposed visitor information center in downtown Las Vegas and seven additional security officers for the convention center and/or Cashman Center.

The authority will end this year with 503 authorized positions, well below the 526 it employed four years ago. Despite the projected 10-employee increase, Siddall said overall salaries and wages will next year decline 6.6 percent to $1.83 million thanks in part to the July 2004 retirement of former President and Chief Executive Officer Manny Cortez.

Approximately 81 percent of the convention authority's budget is funded by a 9 percent room tax collected from patrons of Clark County hotels and motels. Overall room taxes collected next year project to $351 million, with the convention authority to keep $161 million of those funds.

Clark County will receive $39 million for transportation projects and $63.4 million for capital projects for the school district. The Nevada Commission on Tourism will be given $14.6 million, with $51 million split between Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite and Laughlin.