NEVADA – The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) board awarded Charles Harris, the former chief executive, a $112,000 bonus on Thursday, citing his outstanding performance during the fiscal year 2022-23. Although Harris left the RSCVA three months before his contract ended, board members stated that the bonus was a contractual obligation due to his exceptional achievements. The vote to award the bonus was unanimous, with Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve expressing her dissent had she not left for another meeting.
Schieve has been critical of Harris’ compensation structure, particularly when he received a $57,000 raise while staff endured pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite her opposition, Chair Charlene Bybee, who voted in favor of the bonus, emphasized Harris’ significant contributions to the organization and reiterated that the bonus was stipulated in his contract.
Bybee further stated that had the board not approved the bonus, Harris could have pursued legal action. Under his leadership, the local tourism industry made a swift recovery from the pandemic, with Washoe County’s room tax revenue reaching a record high of over $467 million in 2022.
In addition to awarding the bonus, the RSCVA board voted to enlist Winners Partners, a national headhunting firm, to conduct a search for the permanent CEO position. The firm’s services will cost $80,000, excluding travel expenses. Another firm, DHR Global, was considered but would have charged $112,000.
The RSCVA CEO position has experienced a high turnover rate, prompting disagreements among board members about the best approach to secure a long-term executive. Currently, Mike Larragueta, the vice president of sales, is serving as interim CEO.
Schieve expressed concerns that repeating the national search process may yield the same results and criticized the amount of money spent on this process over the past decade. Bybee, on the other hand, clarified that the national search does not preclude the consideration of local or internal candidates. She emphasized that the search aims to provide credibility to the selected candidate, whether they are from the local community or identified through the national search.
Credits: Fox Reno
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