The CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is preparing to retire.
His announcement at Tuesday’s board meeting comes amid a controversy over the misuse of thousands of dollars in airline gift cards.
Rossi Ralenkotter has also faced health issues for years, including cancer. He hasn’t announced a date for his retirement, only saying he’s in talks with board members.
Ralenkotter addressed rumors about his plans to step down on the same day the LVCVA received an update on an audit that found he and others were using gift cards for personal travel.
Ralenkotter said his time as the CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is coming to an end.
“I talked to the family and I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do as I came in as president,” he said.
Before board members, he outlined his accomplishments since becoming president in 2004.
“I wanted to break 40 million that was another goal we had. We’re over 42 million visitors a year.”
But most recently, he has been at the center of controversy over the use of airline gift cards that were purchased by the LVCVA from 2012 to 2017.
A 13-page audit, first released in April, says that out of $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards, more than $50,000 was unaccounted for.
Almost $20,000 was used for personal travel and the other $20,000 for business. Ralenkotter and his wife are responsible for more than $16,000 in family trips.
“We needed to beef up some of our auditing practices, some of the accounting for how we accounted for the gift cards,” said Bill Noonan, board secretary & chairman of audit committee, LVCVA.
Noonan says the committee has come up with recommendations to prevent future issues, including giving all gift cards to the finance department.
“They’re put into our accounting inventory, that we know how many we have, we know who they’re issued and authorized to be used for.”
Ralenkotter has reimbursed the LVCVA.
Noonan doesn’t believe Ralenkotter’s 45 years in the tourism industry should be overshadowed by one mistake.
“Those kinds of things are going to happen in your career and you just learn from them and move on,” Noonan said.
As for who’s next after him, Noonan says he’s sure Steve Hill will be considered for the job. Hill is currently the chief operating officer for the organization.