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August 25, 2022 - 12:02pm

WROTB directors extend pact with law firm as they seek answer to health insurance question

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. leaders are taking steps to address the company health insurance policy that has been a media hot button item in recent months.

The corporation’s board of directors this morning approved a resolution to spend up to $25,000 to extend a contract with the Connors LLP law firm of Buffalo, with the goal of reaching a “global solution" to the health insurance matter.

“I’ve been instructed (by the board) to come back in September with a plan to globally address the healthcare issue for the whole company,” WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek said following the meeting at the Park Road facility. “We’re working on a nice, fair global solution to whatever healthcare (is permissible) and that includes the board and entire corporation.”

Wojtaszek said lawyers are negotiating with the New York State Attorney General’s office.

“He’s (Terry Connors) prepared a memo that he’s provided to the attorney general and he’s provided advice to our board,” he said. “Talks with the attorney general are continuing.”

Published reports about the “gold plated” health insurance plan given to board members have prompted protests from Western New York politicians and government officials – present and past. Until June of last year, all board members (and three retired ones) were receiving health insurance plans that cost the public benefit company an average of more than $10,000 per year.

The board, at its June 2021 meeting, voted unanimously to eliminate company-sponsored health insurance benefits for directors appointed on or after July 1, 2021. So, as of today, the majority of the board members are still receiving fully-paid health insurance.

In other developments, the board:

  • Approved the purchase of $50,000 worth of $20 gift cards from Tops Friendly Markets to be used toward a promotion for the Hotel at Batavia Downs for eligible hotel stays through the end of the year.
  • Announced that $61,498 in surcharges generated in July will be distributed to member municipalities. Also, it was reported that Batavia Bets’ revenue is down 16 percent this month as compared to last August, and 17 percent for the year as compared to this time in 2021.
  • Learned that management is looking to reduce the number of summer concerts from 11 to nine next year in an effort to attract top name bands and, hopefully, eliminate tribute bands. “The purpose is to possibly spend a little bit more money to get bigger bands, for lack of a better term, in order to attract bigger crowds,” Wojtaszek said. When asked if security was an issue this year, he said the combination of Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies, Batavia Police Department officers and the Downs’ security staff handled things well.
  • Reported that the Park Road Reconstruction Project is moving along, noting that crews were laying the binder on the east side of the road and that sidewalks are being put in on both sides. “We expect the road to be open after Labor Day and we expect substantial completion -- 97-98 percent of the project -- done by September 20th,” Wojtaszek said. (See photo below).

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