03/01/2006 1:00AM

NYRA loan bill passes


The New York Senate passed a bill Wednesday that will provide the New York Racing Association with a $20 million loan from the state's lottery corporation.

The Senate passed the bill 40-21. The New York Assembly passed identical legislation Tuesday night by a vote of 125-10. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. George Pataki, whose office helped negotiate the loan late last year.

Under the bill, NYRA will be required to pay back the $20 million loan, which bears interest at 4 percent annually, by Dec. 31, 2007, the day its franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga expires. NYRA plans to pay off the loan with proceeds from a slot-machine casino it is expected to open late this year or early in 2007 at Aqueduct.

Bill Nader, a NYRA senior vice president, said Wednesday that the association will be required to work with a state oversight board on how the $20 million will be spent.

"We need to work with the oversight board on what debts get paid and on what schedule," he said.

Nader said that a portion of the loan would almost certainly be used to remove a $1.125 million tax lien placed on its property by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance. The lien was posted after NYRA failed to pay state taxes on its parimutuel handle for two consecutive 30-day periods in late 2005.