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Chris Jones

Authority Grants Chief Salary Increase

9 August 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Rossi Ralenkotter's raise is now a reality.

On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board unanimously awarded a 5 percent salary increase and $60,000 performance bonus to its third-year president and chief executive officer.

The 59-year-old leader's 2006-07 base salary is now $248,714.

Coupled with his bonus and a $9,000 annual auto allowance, Ralenkotter will be paid $317,714 to head the room tax-funded organization's efforts to bring tourists and business travelers to Southern Nevada.

The authority's three-member compensation committee recommended the raise and bonus in mid-June, committee member Jim Gibson said Tuesday.

At that time, Ralenkotter recited a lengthy list of personal and agencywide accomplishments in fiscal 2005-06, including last year's record citywide visitor count of nearly 38.6 million visitors, and the successful recruitment of 2007's National Basketball Association All-Star events.

Board members accepted the committee's recommendations without discussion Tuesday.

Ralenkotter's new salary is effective retroactive to July 2, the start of the current fiscal year's first pay period.

"Thank you," Ralenkotter told the board immediately after the vote. He then credited the local resort industry and the authority's 500-plus employees for enabling last year's success.

Ralenkotter's compensation was determined through comparisons with peers in other markets.

Mark Olson, the authority's vice president of human resources, hired a Stamford, Conn.-based firm called Performance Management to study the salaries of the top executives of 15 convention and visitor bureaus.

It offered a mean annual salary of $247,000, with annual incentive packages of $61,000.

Ralenkotter's duties are unlike most of his peers, since his agency markets Las Vegas and operates one of the nation's largest convention venues. Those duties are separated in most U.S. cities.

Performance Management's $308,000 compensation total was the basis of the committee's recommendation for Ralenkotter, excluding the fixed auto allowance.

In separate action:

* Board members recommended a 5 percent raise and 13 percent bonus for Luke Puschnig, the authority's in-house legal counsel. He'll earn $144,610 this fiscal year.

Puschnig's last-year duties included complex negotiations to buy several parcels near the Las Vegas Convention Center, helping draft the NBA All-Star agreement and assisting on a contract extension to keep the National Finals Rodeo in town through December 2014.

* The board also approved a policy committee recommendation to increase the authority president's ability to authorize business expenses of $100,000 or less. The previous threshold was $50,000.

The change was made so that Ralenkotter and his successors could better handle day-to-day operations of the authority without delaying certain expenditures by as much as 30 days until the board reconvened.

"I think it will move more-important things before this board to consider," policy committee chairman Chuck Bowling said.

He cited June's $57,600 bulk toilet paper purchase as the type of item Ralenkotter should have been able to handle without prior board approval.

Rossi Ralenkotter

President and chief executive officer, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority


year Base

salary Performance

bonus Auto

allowance Total


2004-05 $225,000 $8,868* $9,000 $242,868

2005-06 $236,870 $40,000 $9,000 $285,870

2006-07** $248,714 $60,000 $9,000 $317,714

*Bonus was for prior-year work as executive vice president

**Salary and bonus approved Tuesday

SOURCE: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority