NY Comptroller to Examine NYRA Finances

The New York Racing Association, which has a long tradition of clashing with state government officials, faces a new review of its books by the state’s chief fiscal watchdog.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced July 20 he would investigate NYRA’s fiscal affairs to determine if officials at the racing association followed any of his advice from an audit he conducted of NYRA last year. DiNapoli a year ago warned of major financial troubles for NYRA unless it took steps, in part, to cut costs.

That audit came after NYRA, at first, declined to cooperate with the review by DiNapoli, who had to go the subpoena route to nudge the track operator along.

“NYRA has a history of overspending. I want to ensure that this is one tradition that doesn’t continue,’’ DiNapoli said in a statement.

The comptroller wants to see what NYRA did about reducing salary costs—raises were authorized by the NYRA board early this year—and for expenses such as outside consulting firms. DiNapoli noted another battle NYRA had recently with the state Franchise Oversight Board over such matters as executive salary raises.

NYRA, according to its 2011 budget recently released by state officials, expects to see an $11 million deficit this year after a $17 million operating deficit last year. NYRA expects a financial turnaround of sorts after a long-stalled video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct opens later this fall.

The review by DiNapoli comes as the state Inspector General, an office with broad investigatory powers, is also reviewing NYRA’s books.NYRA responded far differently today than the last time DiNapoli sought to audit its books.

“We have received notice from the comptroller’s office and we look forward to cooperating with them on the audit,’’ said NYRA spokesman Dan Silver.

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