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Chris Jones

Pay Increases Recommended for Authority Staff

12 January 2005

More than 60 executive- and management-level employees of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Tuesday moved one step closer to landing average salary range increases of approximately 14 percent to 15 percent.

At the urging of Human Resources Director Mark Olson, the convention authority's three-member compensation committee unanimously approved the lesser of two third-party recommendations related to changing the pay scales of eight executive-level positions.

That led convention authority President Rossi Ralenkotter to apply the same survey's recommendations to approximately 55 management-level employees also tasked with promoting the city's travel and trade show industries. So-called "M-level" workers would see their pay scales increase by about 15 percent collectively, Olson said.

The committee's recommendations must still be approved by a vote of the 13-member convention authority board scheduled to take place Feb. 8. Actual raises won't occur until July, if at all, Olson added.

A salary survey recently conducted by Stamford, Conn.-based Performance Management, Olson said, best matched the authority's needs because its comparisons were based largely on the pay scales of other convention and visitors bureaus.

While Performance Management called for a 28 percent increase to the range of the convention authority's president/chief executive officer, its collective average change for the eight executive positions was approximately 14 percent.

Fox Lawson & Associates, a compensation and human resources firm with offices in Phoenix and St. Paul, Minn., called for executive pay scale increases that ranged from 18 percent to 35 percent and collectively averaged a 28 percent gain. However, its study also factored in the salaries of local government employees.

"I would recommend Performance Management's recommendation," Olson said. "It's closer to our industry and is more apples to apples."

The committee includes convention authority board members Jim Gibson, who is Henderson's mayor; Caesars Entertainment executive Tony Santo; and Mandalay Resort Group executive Vince Matthews.

If its recommendations are approved next month, Ralenkotter's pay scale would jump from a range of $156,000 to $250,380 to a new range of $214,400 to $321,600 He now earns a base salary of $225,000 per year.

The committee also voted to postpone Ralenkotter's annual evaluation until July, the same period the authority's other 500 or so employees will be eligible for actual salary adjustments. Gibson said it's been historically awkward to evaluate the president during the middle of the fiscal year.

When developing subsequent salary strategies, Gibson also asked that the committee's charter require future members to consider economic conditions both inside and outside the Las Vegas market.

While it's easy to base local salaries on "how everyone else is doing," Gibson said local factors such as changes in visitor or trade show volume should also figure in salary-related discussions. Legal counsel Luke Puschnig said such a condition will be added before the charter is submitted for a final board vote.