FULTON COUNTY -- On Monday, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors believes it became the first county government in the state to pass a resolution formally opposing the new license plate replacement and fee requirement recently announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.
The New York state Department of Motor Vehicles has announced the new license plate plan will not only require plates over 10 years old to be replaced, but also cost consumers an additional $25 fee on top of their registration renewal fee to do so. People who want to keep their current plate number will be required to pay an additional $20 on top of both the replacement and registration fees.
The resolution passed by the Fulton County board referenced research provided by State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who was on hand to thank the supervisors and to give a speech in opposition to the license plate fee.
According to Tedisco, the license plate plan would affect at least 3 million vehicles, enabling the state to gain about $70 million in revenue, far more than the approximately $2.3 million it will cost to make the new plates.
Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. blasted the Cuomo administration's plan.
"I've been opposed to this since the day it came out. I'm a Democrat, and this has bi-partisan support across the board. The people of New York state don't want to pay another $25 for this," Lauria said. "I would say to the governor, if this does go through, and you're going to charge $25, this money should go to pay for the unfunded mandates that he puts on across all counties. That's all I have to say."
Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Greg Young, also a Democrat, spoke against the license plate renewal requirement.
"We live in a rural area. The more urban parts of the state have public transit, but for people around here, to get their kids to school, to get around every day, people depend on their cars. They're struggling to get by and to have all of these fees — to get a new title that will be $75 — this is outrageous. I'm glad we're standing up and being the first county to say no on this," Young said.
The fees were announced as part of a new license plate design contest, whereby a public vote via the Internet would pick the new design.
Last week the state said the design chosen by the public was the one featuring Niagara Falls.
Cuomo has argued against some of the criticisms of the renewal requirement, saying the New York state Legislature passed the fee structure law before he took office.
Tedisco said the governor is being disingenuous about the fees. He said the state law allows for up to $25 to be charged for new plates, but it doesn't require the state to charge anything. He said the license plates are made by New York state prisoners making about $1.15 per hour.
"For the first time in a long time, there is major opposition from the local governments, from both parties, from both sides of the aisle. We think this is not a good approach," he said.
Tedisco said license plates that can be read by cashless tolling and red light cameras should not have to be replaced.
Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to the governor, provided a statement countering Tedisco's claim that the state is not required to charge $25 for the license plates.
"At this point, Tedisco is talking to himself and it's sad. No amount of grandstanding, hypocrisy and cheap press hits can hide the facts, which are the cost of a replacement license plate was changed from $15 to $25 by a vote of the legislature in 2009 — before this governor took office — remained the same for the last 10 years and Tedisco and his fellow Republicans did nothing to change it when they held the Senate," Azzopardi said. "As the DMV commissioner already said, he wants to work with the legislature to come up with a cost-effective system before April that adapts to changing technology to ensure that plates can be read by both cashless tolling and law enforcement.”