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RSCVA president gains bonus

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:15 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority has one job: marketing our community to the rest of the world.

Heading this organization is an important job, one that pays well. It should. In an area where tourism accounts for a major share of the economy, it impacts all of us. In the best of times, one can imagine it’s hardly easy and these haven’t been the best of times.

Charles Harris was hired as president and chief executive officer last November, assuming his duties in the midst of a pandemic and inheriting what’s been described as a toxic work culture left by the untimely departure of his predecessor.

At the time the authority’s board laid out a list of tasks they expected him to accomplish and this morning--just 10 months into the job--he was being reviewed.

Harris went through the list one-by-one and could point to recently rebounding numbers of visitors, increasing room tax revenues.

That done, he then sat and, with the public and press looking on, the board discussed compensation. After a year and a half which saw layoffs, pay cuts and other sacrifices, the subject proved a difficult, uncomfortable one.

The job pays $290-thousand dollars and Harris along with everyone else received a three percent cost of living raise earlier. On the agenda; a possible merit raise and/or a bonus.

There was general agreement he had done a good job, so far, but should that be awarded after less than a year with a merit raise? A motion to approve one died without a second.

There was support for a bonus, but also doubts.

“It’s just the COVID times,” said board member Rick Murdock. “There wasn’t a lot of bonuses being handed out. This is a Quasi-governmental business and when you look at that I didn’t see a lot of bonuses in governmental situations.”

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve had similar concerns. Both voted no. The rest of the board said yes, to a bonus of nearly $58-thousand dollars.

It was, Chairman Bob Lucey said, a simple matter of keeping a promise. “Contractually we felt he made good on his promises to us and was reward for that.”

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