Jan 18


Wojtaszek, OTB leadership get 2nd raise in a year

Top executives at OTB got a first round of raises in May. Wojtaszek now makes more than other highly-paid public officials.

Dennis Bassett, chair of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors, left, and President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek. Photo by Garrett Looker.

The Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. gave its president and CEO Henry Wojtaszek a $15,000 raise Thursday, cementing him among the highest paid public employees in New York.  

Wojtaszek, 61, now earns an annual paycheck of $287,000.

That’s more than New York City Mayor Eric Adams ($258,000); Gov. Kathy Hochul ($250,000); Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ($193,400); Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown ($178,500); U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins ($174,000); and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz ($140,000). 

Wojtaszek is one of five top OTB officials given raises Thursday because OTB performed well in 2023, according to board member Elliott Winter and board Chairman Dennis Bassett. 

Bassett reported that hotel stays were up 15 percent, food and beverage sales were up 14 percent, attendance was up 8 percent and the agency sent 9 percent more revenue back to the 15 counties and two cities that own it last year.

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The raises were the executives’ second pay bump in nine months.

That first pay raise came in May when Wojtaszek and 17 other OTB executives received employment contracts for the first time, one of the final actions the former board of directors took before being fired as part of a state Legislature overhaul.

Wojtaszek received a $10,000 increase with the May contract over his 2022 pay ($261,000) and received another $15,000 increase Thursday, meaning his total pay increased by $25,000 in less than one year.

The other raises awarded Thursday were to:

  • Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach. She received a $12,480 raise and now makes $234,500 annually.
  • Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski. He received a $7,500 raise and now makes $172,668.
  • Vice President Of Administration William White. He received a $7,500 raise and now makes $167,500.
  • And Vice President Of Operations Sean Schiano. He received a $4,800 raise and now makes $136,000.

Wojtaszek, who joined OTB in 2010 as its general counsel, has been president and CEO since 2016.

Erie County OTB Board Member Timothy Callan questioned the raises at Thursday’s meeting. Photo by Garrett Looker.

Timothy Callan, the newly-appointed board member from Erie County, argued Thursday that the board was forcing through pay increases before state reforms take full effect. Last May, Sen. Tim Kennedy passed legislation that fired OTB’s board of directors and instituted weighted voting. That new system gives the more-populated (and Democratically-controlled) cities and counties more voting power than the less-populated and Republican-controlled counties.

The state Gaming Commission, however, has yet to approve needed licenses for Callan and Buffalo board member Crystal Rodriquez-Dabney, meaning neither can vote on OTB business despite holding one-third of the 99 total board votes. Though Callan attended Thursday’s meeting and was allowed to participate, he was not permitted to vote on anything.

“Right now, two of the three directors who hold the majority of votes, their positions are vacant, and they seemingly jam this through knowing that I can’t do anything to stop it,” Callan said. 

Callan joined the board in December after Jennifer Hibit, Erie County’s first new board member following the reforms, was forced to resign. Callan works as deputy to Erie County Controller Kevin Hardwick, who has been critical of OTB in the past.

Bassett argued that OTB pays significantly less than privately-owned casinos and racetracks, meaning that the pay bumps were needed to retain top leadership.

“We’re way underpaying,” he said. “We’re not even close to rewarding our leadership team based upon the job they did in 2023.”

Wojtaszek refused to answer questions about his salary increases. When approached by a reporter after Thursday’s meeting, Wojtaszek appeared to not hear the reporter’s repeated requests to speak with him and walked out of the board room. When the reporter followed him into the hallway, still voicing repeated attempts to get his attention, Wojtaszek scurried up a staircase and out of sight.

Wojtaszek walking away_Jan. 18, 2024

OTB President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek avoids questions from a reporter by escaping up a stairway. Photo by Garrett Looker.

An audio recording of a reporter attempting to ask Wojtaszek questions.

Though the raises passed unanimously, the measure was not without controversy.

Callan, during the meeting and after, questioned the raises.

“If I could have voted today, I would not have voted for these raises. I don’t understand the exact justification,” he said. 

“This is coming out of nowhere after these individuals got contracts last May by the outgoing board on their way out.”

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Prior to the May contract and Thursday’s raise, Leach earned $213,000. Her raises total more than $20,000. Kiedrowski’s raises total more than $23,000, White’s more than $18,000 and Schiano’s nearly $29,000. 

Board member James Wilmot, who oversees casinos for the Rochester-based Wilmorite Management Group, said Thursday that OTB pays far below what private casinos pay. He declined, however, to discuss pay at the casinos he manages.

“This industry in general is very nomadic,” he said. “To keep good people you have to pay them.”

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