“New York State’s final budget bills, now more than a month late, have finally been delivered to the Legislature. Now, however, there is a big hurry to pass all of them, without enough time for legislators to fully read and consider the language contained in what is often referred to as the “Big Ugly.”
“This collection of budget bills is filled with policy initiatives, as usual. One particularly onerous policy change hidden in the budget will have an enormous impact on our region.
“A significant restructuring of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting (OTB) Corporation Board of Directors is included in this year’s budget. Currently, the Western Regional OTB Board of Directors consists of 17 members, one member from each county in the region and one from the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. The budget proposal would terminate all 17 current members and create a completely new Board of Directors comprised of 17 members, but with each member given weighted votes assigned according to the population of the counties and municipalities within the region.
“This new board would effectively allow a select few municipalities to control the Western Regional OTB Corporation Board of Directors. The lion’s share of votes would go to Erie and Monroe counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester; smaller counties would have virtually no voice in the operation of the OTB in our region.
“A power grab of this magnitude is unfair and unnecessary. The current system, which has worked very well for this region for many years would be gutted and replaced to allow major population centers to dominate the operations of the OTB Corporation.
“Smaller counties rely on the revenue generated by OTB operations and deserve equal representation on the Board of Directors. This move is unfair and unwarranted.”