Money cause of Houghton departure

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Updated: 12/30/2013 4:39 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- A major change in leadership is taking place at the Reno Air Races. On Monday, the event's Board of Directors announced the departure of its longtime President and CEO Mike Houghton.

Houghton had been with the event since 1998. Joey Scolari, who spoke for the board, said this restructuring was done to cut costs. It is the latest change for the organization that has seen restructuring of its board, marketing teams and staff members over the past year.

The changes have been made to offset a nearly $3 million spike in operating costs. The increase is primarily driven by insurance costs following a 2011 crash at the event. Scolari would not confirm Houghton's salary, other than to say Houghton was the highest paid staff member. Sources say his salary was in the six figures. 

Scolari was on the board when Houghton first joined the organization more than a decade ago. He said Houghton took the event to another level changing the food, the air show and the air racers.

"We're out of money. We just had to start cutting it back. We cut the staff back a day a week and we just need to get it down so we can have the air races," Scolari said.

Scolari said Dave Wilbern will be running the day-to-day operations while the Board, including Chairman Mike Majors, will be running the event until a new leader is selected.
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