The top executive at the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority on Thursday was granted a bonus for meeting agency goals after less than a year on the job.
Charles Harris’ bonus was almost $58,000. His performance review generated mostly high marks from the board and mixed reviews from RSCVA’s executive staff. Reviews were anonymous.
Goals centered around COVID-19 recovery, creating greater staff satisfaction and addressing resource constraints, improving air service, a revised strategy for facilities management, and engaging the community.
For example, Harris started a monthly “brown bag luncheon” with RSCVA staff and the last one drew more than 20 people.
“It’s held here in the conference room and it’s an opportunity for staff just to be able to gather and ask any questions,” Harris said. “Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable walking into a CEO’s office. My door is open all the time and I wanted to add an additional layer for people to communicate.”
Harris began at the RSCVA in November 2020 at an annual base pay of $290,000 and was eligible for a bonus of up to 35% of his salary. He and other RSCVA staff members received a 3% cost of living increase earlier this year.
Board member Ann Silver criticized the evaluation process, citing confusing questions. It’s not a good idea for the RSCVA’s executive team to evaluate the CEO anonymously, she said.
“I think that sort of thing went out in the 1980s,” said Silver, CEO of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know any of us who have those kinds of evaluations. I also did a deep dive into the responses and I can only surmise—I don’t have the facts to prove this—that the executives present, and some not, felt uncomfortable at best given what may have occurred in the past under prior CEOs where there was possible retaliation or difficult conversations regarding results of those evaluations.”
RSCVA chairman Bob Lucey said Harris came on board during challenging times and needs flexibility to evolve. In addition to COVID-19, he said the agency underwent several staffing changes and it can take time for employees to warm up to new leadership.
“I feel confident he’s moving forward in the right direction,” Lucey said. “I think that it’s been challenging and he’s done a number of things to really kind of invigorate.”
Molly Rezac, RSCVA legal counsel, said the evaluation questions were developed and approved by the board 5 years ago. Many of the current board members weren’t on the board then. Rezac said the board can change the evaluation process and have a committee draft new questions.
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.