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WROTB president says health insurance provided to only three long-serving directors

By Mike Pettinella

Other than three longtime Western New York Off-Track Betting Corp. directors, no members of the company’s board are receiving or will be eligible to receive health insurance benefits going forward.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, responding to a Freedom of Information Law request from The Batavian today, said that the public benefit company is paying the health insurance premiums for Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester), Thomas Wamp (Livingston County) and Richard Ricci (Seneca County).

The board of directors consists of 17 members, representing 15 counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

“These individuals have qualified for a Medicare plan through Western Regional OTB due to their longevity prior to the board being terminated by state mandate,” Wojtaszek said. “No one else on the board has any coverage.”

New York State legislation last May dismantled the previous board and forced the municipalities to either reappoint the director or appoint someone new. Bassett, Wamp and Ricci were reappointed along with seven other rural county directors.

Following Wednesday’s board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming, Wojtaszek reported that WROTB’s revamped health insurance plan for employees, other than board members, will be unveiled soon.

“We have the members of the (Labor Management Health Fund) coming in to speak with our employees within the next two to three weeks to inform them of the program,” he said. “And we'll see who takes advantage of it.”

Wojtaszek said two programs will be offered, with an eye on providing something affordable for younger workers and their families. He said WROTB is part of a large consortium with other businesses in the area.

WROTB’s program is a self-insured one where the company pays the cost of claims and also a firm to administer the plan.

When pressed about board members’ health insurance – something that has been in the press for several months and labeled as a “gold-plated” plan for directors, Wojtaszek said all of that changed for any board member approved after July 1, 2021.

“Nobody who is a board member currently is involved in our active (LMHF) program. They could be on Medicare because of an old program (referring to Bassett, Wamp and Ricci),” he said.

Directors who had health insurance through WROTB prior to the reorganization this summer are no longer eligible for the corporation’s LMHF plan, he said. The plan is administered by Lawley Insurance.

In related action, the board approved a resolution to renew a contract with Garland Insurance & Financial Services of Phoenix, Ariz., to provide commercial insurance – liability, property and directors & officers – from through May 31, 2024 at a cost of $1,147,215.46.

Wojtaszek said the premium reflects an increase of 8 percent. 

He also mentioned that WROTB has hired a consultant, Alterity Group, to work on a bidding process after the contract expires. WROTB has contracted with Garland since 2015, he said.

Susie Ott named branch manager of the Lawley Insurance office in Batavia

By Press Release

Press release:

Lawley, an independent family-owned insurance broker, and employee benefits firm, is proud to announce the promotion of Susie Ott to Branch Manager of the Lawley Batavia office.

Ott has been with Lawley for 10+ years. Prior to that, she worked in the banking industry.

“There is nobody better out there to lead Lawley’s Batavia office,” said Bill Lawley, Jr., Principal of Lawley. “We wanted Susie in the Branch Manager role because of her experience, innovation, and leadership at our organization.”

Ott will lead Batavia’s office and help to strategize their personal insurance and business insurance divisions. She will also work to bring in farm/crop insurance specialty niche after the Lawley Southcott merger earlier in 2022. The Southcott merger brought in three new Lawley associates that will work under Ott’s leadership.

Ott is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), a Notary Public, and maintains her New York State Property & Casualty Brokers License and her New York State Life License. She is a past member of the Genesee Region Insurance Professionals and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors Selection Committee. Ott is a graduate of the Nationwide Insurance Basic Farm Certification Course and she also attended the Hartford School of Insurance’s Commercial Lines Producer Development Program.

Ott is a very active member of the Batavia community and insurance industry. She is a past member of Genesee Region Insurance Professionals and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors Selection Committee.

Ott is a graduating member of Leadership Genesee and Leadership Wyoming. In 2018, she was honored as the Nationwide Insurance Community Service District Winner, in 2017 she won the Genesee County United Way Barber Conable Award, in 2016 was awarded Geneseean of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and is a 2011 member of the Outstanding Alumnus of Leadership Genesee.

Ott currently serves on the Rochester Regional Health, United Memorial Medical Center Board of Directors. She also chairs the Quality Committee at United Memorial Medical Center. In the past, she has served on the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors for 9 years, serving as President for 2 years.

She is Co-Chair of the United Way Day of Caring and has served in this role since 2008 when it began. She has also served on the United Way Allocations Committee for Genesee County and co-chaired the Genesee County United Way Campaign in 2008 and 2019.

Ott has been involved in the Batavia Rotary Club since 2004 and will be the 2023 incoming President. She is a past Batavia Development Corporation Board Member. In 2018, Ott was selected to be one of the 20 committee members for the Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative where $10 million dollars was awarded to businesses in Batavia’s Downtown.

“It is a privilege to be part of the Lawley organization. I am excited to move into the Branch Manager role to help lead the team I have been a part of for over a decade,” said Ott.

GCEDC courting 'mega' company for STAMP site; county Ways & Means considers cyber insurance

By Mike Pettinella

The leader of the Genesee County Economic Development Center said he is attempting to persuade a company “five times the size of 1366 Technologies” to put its stake in the WNY Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

“We’ve had five site visits” (with the company),” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and chief executive office, this afternoon at the Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, later adding that the business is “five times the size of 1366 as far as investment and jobs go.”

“We will either be the bridesmaid or bride in this deal, and (if the latter) it would change the face of the community,” Hyde said, invoking a nondisclosure agreement. “While 1366 was a start-up, this company is very solid.”

Hyde and GCEDC Board Chairman Paul Battaglia said they were disappointed by the decision of 1366 Technologies, which manufactures solar wafers, to pull out of STAMP – a 1,250-acre, shovel-ready nanotechnologies site developed by the GCEDC.

“It took two years for the announcement that 1366 would be coming and another two years for them to pull the plug on that project,” Battaglia said after Hyde and CFO Lezlie Farrell gave the committee a quick overview of the GCEDC’s financial picture. “It takes a lot of work and effort with no guarantee that we will be successful.”

Hyde said that “fiscal pressures” in the form of decreased funding and a greater workload are “part of the challenges that are hard to overcome.” However, he said he is confident that a deal is in the near future.

“It’s just a matter of when, not if,” he said.

The GCEDC will be coordinating four projects at the STAMP site in the coming months in an effort to achieve what he called the “big house blueprint – big water, big sewer and big electric.”

GCEDC officials reported that the 2018 budget shows $26.9 million in revenue against $27.3 million in expenses, with $1.4 million budgeted for operations and $25.6 million for WNY Stamp.

Hyde said that the shortfall would be covered by annuity streams generated by HP Hood, which has moved into the former Muller Quaker yogurt plant on East Main Street Road.

He bemoaned the fact that financial backing from Genesee County has decreased by 31 percent since 2008 (currently at $193,513 annually) since the agency’s only two sources of funding are project revenues/origination fees and county support.

“The challenge is that we have is that we’ve been in an environment where the body of work has illuminated. The work activity, business development and sales, and workforce development – notably in food, beverage and agriculture – have more than doubled,” he said.

Hyde reported that in 2017, the GCEDC steered 16 projects that resulted in $240 million in pledged capital investment and 288 pledged job creation. Eight of those projects, generating $231 in capital investment, were in the food and beverage/agri-business sector.

For 2018, a key stated GCEDC goal is to secure additional investment to implement STAMP Phase II site and infrastructure development to help make the site globally competitive by better aligning infrastructure readiness timelines with market needs (market-ready/shovel-ready).

In an another development, the Ways & Means Committee engaged in a discussion with Lawley Insurance executives Reggie Dejean and Suzie Ott and County Information Technology Director Steve Zimmer about cyber liability insurance.

Cyber insurance has emerged as a result of increased activity by hackers or other criminals who gain access to a firm’s electronic network. Most notably, but not exclusively, it covers a business' liability for a data breach in which personal and/or confidential information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, is exposed or stolen.

Zimmer said he didn’t think Genesee County has enough protection in this area.

“Cyber liability insurance would give us the financial resources to bring experts in,” he said, adding that he projected that if all data was lost at the Mental Health department, for example, it would cost up to $3.8 million to rectify the situation.

Currently, he said there are in excess of 700 users -- including volunteer fire department personnel -- on the county’s computer network, which presents the risk of someone opening an infected e-mail or attachment.

Dejean said cyber policies offered by Lawley have limits of $1 million, $2 million or $5 million, and cover data & network liability/third-party liability, web and print content liability, regulatory defense and penalties, cyber extortion (ransomware) and business interruption (loss of income). They also offer the ability to notify up to 250,000 people of a breach.

The committee made no commitment, but did get the figures -- annual premiums of: $21,663 for a $1 million policy; $27,078 for a $2 million policy; $36,061 for a $5 million policy with $100,000 deductible; and $32,818 for a $5 million policy with a $250,000 deductible.

When asked where the money would come from to pay the premium, County Manager Jay Gsell said initially it would come from the county’s self-insurance fund, “but going forward (if people are identified as causing problems) there could be some changes to financing the risk.”

Gsell, responding to a question about how to educate computer users, said he was in favor of formulating a policy, starting with the E-911 board to communicate the responsibilities associated with information technology.

“The education piece has to start sometime soon,” said Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg.

-- The committee also endorsed a resolution proposing a local law designating the opioid epidemic and its impact on Genesee County a "public nuisance" and to set a course to recover costs incurred by the county in providing related services.

The resolution, in part, states that "as a result of the opioid epidemic, costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased. Many of these costs are paid by the County. The purpose and intent of this Local Law is to allow the County to recover these costs ... whenever practicable, from the responsible party."

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 28 at the Old County Courthouse.

Lawley moves up on 2017 Top 100 Insurance Brokers List

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Through organic growth and partnerships, Lawley has moved closer to a top 50 ranking, coming in at 54 on the Business Insurance rankings of the Top 100 largest insurance brokers in the United States, based on 2016 brokerage revenues of U.S. clients. Lawley ended the year posting more than 5-percent growth across the organization, which helped the regional firm move up three spots.

“We continue to work hard to offer personalized customer service and insurance options that fit our client’s specific needs. We take pride being an independent broker and only having to answer to our customers, not outside shareholders,” stated Bill Lawley, Jr., managing partner of Lawley.

“Lawley will continue to supplement all of our current offerings by adding resources and specialists to deliver the customized insurance, risk management and employee benefits solutions that our customers desire.”

Lawley has consistently appeared on the Top 100 list, having been recognized as one of the top one percent of insurance brokers for over 25 years. Headquartered in Buffalo, Lawley has offices in Amherst; Batavia; Fredonia; Melville; Purchase; Rochester; Florham Park, N.J.; Darien, C.T., and now Mahopac, which joined the Lawley family through a partnership in 2017. The agency continues to grow, employing over 375 associates across the entire footprint and continues to add new talent.

To read the list of Independent Insurance Brokers from 50-100, click here.

About Lawley

Lawley is a privately-owned, independent regional insurance firm specializing in property, casualty and personal insurance, employee benefits and risk management consulting and ranked among the 100 Largest Insurance Brokers in the United States, according to Business Insurance magazine.

For over 60 years, Lawley’s team of more than 350 associates have developed customized property, casualty, surety and benefits insurance programs for businesses and municipalities of all sizes along with personalized protection for individuals and their families. Lawley is recognized as one of the Best Places to Work nationally by Business InsuranceandBuffalo Business First along with being named a Top Workplace by the RochesterDemocrat and Chronicle.

Headquartered in Buffalo, Lawley has branch offices across New York in Amherst, Batavia, Fredonia, Mahopac, Melville, Purchase and Rochester along with Darien, Connecticut and Florham Park, New Jersey. To find out more, visit

Lawley Insurance make the industry's Top 50 agencies list

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Lawley Insurance, a leading, full-service regional broker, is ranked for the first time among the Top 50 agencies in the country in this year’s annual listing in "Business Insurance" magazine, the insurance industry’s leading periodical.

Lawley’s planned, systematic growth enabled it to move from number 79 in 2006 to 50 in 2010. Business Insurance’s rankings are based on all brokerage revenues, the commissions and fees from the sales and servicing of commercial and personal insurance and employee benefits.

Lawley’s planned growth was a result of several factors, including its continued expansion of branch partner offices across the Northeast.

“Over the past several years, we have invested in key resources to enhance our value proposition for our client base,” said Lawley Principal William Lawley Jr.

“Our continued focus on workers’ compensation and employee benefit solutions, alternative risk financing (including captives), claims management, and loss prevention are where our organization outperforms other agencies,” added Principal Christopher Ross.

Lawley specializes in key industry groups, including construction/surety, automotive, not for profits, public entities, and health care.

The agency also continues to make significant investments in new sales and insurance professionals who contribute to their continued growth.

“Our goal has been to be ranked among the top 50 agencies in the country. We are proud of our strong partnerships with our clients, carriers, and communities,” Lawley explained. “We have been fortunate to secure the talent and expertise to provide innovative services that enhance the value we bring to our communities and our customer base. These partnerships, combined with our professional team, contributed to our success.”

Lawley Insurance, incorporated in 1955, is a full-service insurance broker providing insurance, risk management and employee benefits. The company is headquartered at 361 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Lawley also has New York branches in Amherst, Batavia, Fredonia, Rochester, Westchester County and a branch in Florham Park, NJ.

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