By Rachel O'Brien
Deputy Policy Editor, OpenTheBooks.com
In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com published reports on spending in the City of Las Vegas, holding officials accountable by collecting data through open records requests and publicly available information.
We reported that in 2021, the City of Las Vegas hired 2,515 vendors and paid them a total of $492 million, that among the $16 billion in earmarks across the country, Nevada’s congressional delegation got $206 million for 114 earmarked projects — “the currency of corruption” — and that at least 460 businesses in Las Vegas had between $1 million and $10 million in loans forgiven from the Paycheck Protection Program.
Here are some of the other stories we reported about how the City of Las Vegas spends taxpayer dollars:
The highest paid was former City Manager Scott Adams, who earned a total of $372,947 with salary and benefits, followed by Deputy Fire Chief Dina Dalessio, whose total pay was $293,965. Dalessio retired, along with Chief Jeff Buchanan,while they were subjects of an internal investigation into allegations of unprofessional behavior
Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s compensation package cost taxpayers $224,923. This included $156,205 in base pay plus $45,690 in pension and $13,810 in health insurance benefits.
Each of the six city council members cost taxpayers an average of $122,000 each – including $25,000 in taxpayer-paid pension benefits.
The city employee with the highest overtime was Collin Sears, a firefighter/paramedic. He earned $120,005 in overtime, for a total compensation of $300,299 in 2021.
Eight of the top ten high overtime earners were firefighters/ paramedics – each earning $74,062 or more in overtime pay, with each making a total of at least $236,000.
Overall, there were 477 fire employees earning between $10,000 and $120,005 in overtime – allowing employees to double or triple their salaries.
The highest paid is Chris Ault, the former football coach at University of Nevada, Reno. He retired in 2012 and received a $310,467 pension last year. Ault spent 28 years in coaching and built the football program at UNR.
After him was Rossi Ralenkotter, the former president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In 2019, Ralenkotter retired and last year received a $289,380 pension.
He retired as he was faced with allegations of misusing the organization’s funds and pled no contest to a misdemeanor in 2020. His plea deal with prosecutors allowed him to keep his public pension.
The third highest paid was Donald O’Shaughnessy, the former fire battalion chief in Clark County, who retired in 2010 on a $234,000 pension, which is more than he made in a salary when he was working. In 2009, his last year on the job, he made $224,000. And his pension has since increased, it’s now up to $286,234 as of last year.
This is as Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System is underfunded by more than $9 billion.
Clark County got $62 million, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department got $9.5 million. The City of Las Vegas got $16.3 million, half of which went to emergency staffing in the fire department — $8.3 million through the SAFER initiative.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame received $32,445 to post some of its exhibits online.
It’s slogan is “Spectacular, Erotic, and Slightly Shocking, A Timeline of Burlesque History.”
The new online database of museum objects include photos of topless and almost-completely-naked women posing. Signed photographs are scrawled with special messages, including one dedicated to “the exotic dancers league Hall of Fame, love and luck always” from a naked Blaze Starr, and others from people like Dixie Evans, “the Marilyn Monroe of burlesque.”