BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County is likely to join Fulton and Rensselaer counties in condemning the Cuomo administration's plans to charge a $25 fee for the new license plates the state will start issuing in April.
The Board of Supervisors' Law and Finance Committee on Wednesday unanimously and without discussion approved a resolution to have the county oppose the fee, which puts the matter before the full Board of Supervisors when it meets on Sept. 24 in Ballston Spa.
State Sen, James Tedisco, R-Glenville, who has been among the fee's most outspoken critics, attended the committee meeting in Ballston Spa. He spoke following the committee vote.
"This is $70 million in taxpayer money being taken by the state," Tedisco told the supervisors, referring to estimates of the money the new fee will bring in if 3 million plates are replaced over the next two years.
The $25 fee was included in the new license plate plans Gov Andrew M. Cuomo proposed in late August. Since then, Tedisco has been among the plan's loudest critics, though some Democrats, including Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of Rotterdam, also have been critical. All the counties that have condemned the fee so far are Republican-led, and Cuomo and state legislative leaders are all Democrats.
Fulton County supervisors passed a similar resolution Monday, and the Rensselaer County Legislature began a committee review that will lead to board action Tuesday.
In response to the criticism, Cuomo's office has accused Tedisco of making misleading statements, and said that the $25 fee was established by the state Legislature during an earlier new license plate debate in 2009. Last week, state Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder said he is willing to discuss the fee with the state Legislature and potentially lower it.
Tedisco and other Republicans have countered that no legislative action is needed, since the 2009 law says the fee is "not to exceed" $25. His staff has estimated the actual cost of producing a license plate at $1.15 per plate, but Tedisco said DMV has refused his requests to find out the actual cost.
He also doesn't want to wait until the state Legislature returns in January, as some Democrats are recommending.
"I don't think it should be part of the budget negotiations," Tedisco said.