07/10/2003 12:00AM

Flap over Noe payments


Kenny Noe Jr., the former chairman and chief executive officer for the New York Racing Association, has been receiving payments of $7,000 a month plus expenses from the association since September 1999, according to an article in the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union on Thursday.

The compensation package, scheduled to to be paid out over five years, was agreed upon and signed off by Noe and NYRA's president at the time, Terence J. Meyocks, just a year before Noe, now 75, retired. The deal allows for the benefit to be paid to Noe's wife, Bess, in the event of his death.

NYRA management has come under fire recently by the state Attorney General's office.

Barry Schwartz, chairman of NYRA, responded Thursday afternoon to the article and in particular to a quote attributed to Meyocks. In the Times-Union article, when Meyocks, currently NYRA's chief operating officer, was asked to explain the payments, he said, "It's not anybody's business. It's between the trustees and Mr. Noe."

In a statement, Schwartz said, "This is an unfortunate statement that does not reflect the position of the NYRA Board of Trustees.

"NYRA is a not-for-profit corporation with a publicly granted franchise to operate parimutuel wagering at racetracks owned by the NYRA. A condition of that public franchise is that NYRA operate the racetracks in a manner that generates reasonable revenue in support of government. Thus, the public has a stake and an interest in any matter that affects NYRA's financial bottom line.

"In providing the compensation package for Mr. Noe, the NYRA trustees made a business decision that his years of service to the racing industry in general and NYRA in particular warranted the level of compensation at issue. If the public's representatives in government feel the compensation package is unwarranted or is excessive, the NYRA trustees will certainly be open to discussing the matter with them.

"Personally, I do not feel that the compensation package is out of proportion with the work Mr. Noe performed on behalf of the NYRA. That is not to say, however, that the public has no interest in the matter as it affects NYRA's financial dealings. Clearly, they do - and the NYRA Board of Trustees takes that interest very seriously."