OTB reform plans pass first test

A state Senate committee had approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Tim Kennedy to reform practices at the Western Regional OTB cited in a critical audit by the state Comptroller

Among rejection by some county legislaturesa series of bills aimed at restructuring the operations of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. cleared their first legislative hurdle.

the the three invoices, sponsored by Buffalo Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy, went through the state Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Betting on Monday.

Kennedy introduced the bills last month in a bid to end what he described as a “perverse dysfunction” within WROTB. His bill calls for a restructuring of the OTB board based on population. It would also limit at-home use of OTB vehicles by some agency employees and impose a $15 cap on the value of items, including tickets to sporting events and concerts, that could be accepted by members. of the OTB Board of Directors.

“Taxpayers are tired of the dysfunction that continues to plague the Western Regional OTB,” Kennedy said in a statement released by his office after Monday’s committee meeting.

“These bills were drafted to finally bring accountability and structure to a Crown corporation that has time and again demonstrated mismanagement and misuse of resources. By codifying these expectations and policies in the law, we clarify: corruption will have consequences.

Kennedy presented his reform package in response to a verification by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who identified several issues in OTB’s operations, including incorrect use tickets to luxury suites at sporting and musical events at Highmark Stadium and Keybank Center.

Earlier this month, Members of the OTB Board of Directors led agency president Henry Wojtaszek to explore options for challenging the bills. Wojtaszek cited litigation as a possible option.

On Friday, Genesee County lawmakers approved a resolution calling on the Senate to oppose Kennedy’s legislation. The resolution suggests that the proposed reforms would cause “irreparable harm to Genesee County, its interests in WROTB, the economic interests of Genesee County, and the ratepayers of (Genesee County).” The Wyoming County Board of Supervisors previously passed a similar resolution.

“This bill would remove equalization from all counties and we oppose this bill,” said Orangeville Supervisor Susan May. the Daily News in Batavia.

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