Elected leaders in Fulton County have taken a stand against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require New York drivers to a pay a $25 fee to upgrade their license plates.
They are believed to be the first legislative body in the state to do so and more are expected to follow. Monday, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a resolution opposing Cuomo’s policy.
"I think it sends a good message back to the governor," said Ward 2 Supervisor Frank Lauria.
Last month, the governor announced all drivers with license plates 10 years or older would be required to upgrade to a new plate and pay a $25 fee, plus an additional $20 if they prefer to keep their current tag number.
"We have a lot of folks in Fulton County who are senior citizens and can’t afford it. They have two cars, they are husband and wife," Lauria said. "That is a burden on senior citizens."
Prior to voting on the non-binding resolution, the lawmakers heard from State Senator Jim Tedisco.
“The only way I can describe this, I’m trying to be kind, is a cash grab with your constituents and my constituents," said Tedisco (R - Glenville).
Since the governor came forward with his proposal, the Republican from Schenectady County has criticized the plan, saying the fees are too burdensome on drivers and that most plates currently on the roads shouldn’t need to be replaced.
In recent days, Cuomo has said he’d be willing to work with the state legislature to lower the proposed fees, but Tedisco prefers he’d scrap the plan entirely.
Senior Advisor to the Governor Rich Azzopaprdi released a statement on Monday. He says 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. 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.”
“I think he is starting to back off of it already, but he doesn’t say that 'for every plate that is still reasonable and readable, I am not going to charge a fee,' " Tedisco said. ”That is the one thing we all want him to say.”
Leaders in Fulton County say they’re optimistic their voices will be heard in Albany.
“With Fulton County being the first one on the map, I think it is going to start a domino effect and the other counties to join the bandwagon," Lauria said.
Tedisco says a committee of supervisors in Saratoga County will consider a similar resolution next week, in advance of the full county board of supervisors voting on it before the end of this month.