Reno-Sparks Tourism Agency Lays Off 16 Workers

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Citing the sour economy's impact on the travel and tourism industry, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority announced today a $4 million cut in its budget that will force the layoff of 16 workers.

The cut represents nearly 9 percent of the authority's $42 million annual budget. A quarter of the cuts came from staff reductions and 75 percent from the operational budget.

RSCVA President Ellen Oppenheim says it was a painful decision. She says travel to Reno has dropped off for a number of reasons, including the high cost of fuel, the mortgage crisis and problems in the financial markets.

Nearly two-thirds of RSCVA money is generated from a portion of the room tax paid by hotel and motel occupants in Washoe County, where taxable room revenues have been declining since March.

In addition to the layoffs, Oppenheim says executive bonuses have been eliminated and the employee merit pay increases also have been deferred. Laid off employees will get severance packages.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)