I-Team: Agencies Make Cuts Despite Big Salaries - 8 News NOW

Investigative Reporter Jonathan Humbert and Photojournalist Alex Brauer

I-Team: Agencies Make Cuts Despite Big Salaries

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LAS VEGAS -- As the recession continues to pick apart state agencies and their sources of funding, layoffs, cuts and tough choices have become the norm.

We've heard it before. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Association says it has cut its budget by 32 percent. The Regional Transportation Commission says it cut its budget in half.

"This is a difficult budgetary environment, no question about it," said aviation director Randy Walker.

The 2009 Clark County Salary Tracker

The economic ravages have reduced some once powerful agencies to ghostly echoes of their former selves. Take the airport. McCarran International isn't funded directly with tax money. When planes and passengers pack the airport, life is good. It's not that way anymore.

"We didn't need to replace positions as they became vacant," said Walker.

That's 86 positions going unfilled. Walker's $274,000 salary hasn't jumped at all in two years, along with the rest of the main staff.

"Freeze all of the management salaries, something we could do," he said.

It's the same story from the air to the ground.

"We have not had any management increases in pay since 2008. We've kept 14 positions open," said Tracy Bower with the RTC.

Bower says those trims have kept the buses running, coupled with two other sources of cash: millions of dollars in one-time stimulus money for construction and the wild success of the Deuce bus, the most recognizable route in the city.

"In fact, it's the only transit line in the country that we're aware of that actually covers its own costs and then provides some additional revenue," said Bower.

Keeping the buses filled and the planes landing is one thing. But, getting all those tourists to Las Vegas takes advertising and money. It's money the LVCVA simply doesn't have anymore.

"We have never faced more difficult challenges within this industry," said spokesman Vince Alberta.

Alberta says their sources of funding, room taxes and conventions, have been decimated. "Understanding like everybody else at home or in their business, we needed to tighten our belts," he said.

The LVCVA trimmed personnel costs by 15 percent. 88 positions remain unfilled. Hourly employees were given furloughs, and executive management hasn't had a raise in three years. That includes the $258,000 salary for CEO Rossi Ralenkotter.

But, the LVCVA may be getting a bargain, even at that price. In Orlando, Florida, tourists and taxpayers foot the bill for both a convention and visitors bureau position. Ralenkotter does the work of two people.

Doing more with less may be the common Las Vegas refrain that may not change any time soon.

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