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Plate Debate

Fulton County first in state to oppose governor’s proposed plate fees

State Sen. James Tedisco addresses the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael)

JOHNSTOWN — Backed by its state senator, Fulton County on Monday became the first county in New York state to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed regulations requiring new New York state license plates and fees.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in opposition, with board Chairman Jack Wilson saying he was “very proud” of the vote at the County Office Building.

The Fulton County vote crossed bipartisan lines, with Democratic Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. calling Cuomo’s proposal “outrageous.”

“I’ve been opposed to this from the day it came out,” Lauria stated.

Also opposed was state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville — Fulton County’s representative in the state Senate — who spoke prior to passage of the resolution. He said Fulton County is the first county in New York state to oppose the governor’s license plate “tax grab.”

State Sen. James Tedisco rails against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed regulations requiring new New York state license plates and fees at the Fulton County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

“It’s going to effect our commerce as well as our public,” Tedisco told the board.

Tedisco said Cuomo plans to charge millions of motorists up to $45 for new license plates, creating a $70 million windfall for state coffers. He said the state would be charging motorists a $25 tax to obtain a new license plate and another $20 tax to keep their current plate number. Last week, Fulton County Clerk Linda Kollar was one of eight county clerks, all running local DMV offices, who joined Tedisco to oppose what the senator called a “cash grab.”

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors resolution that passed Monday indicates Tedisco did an analysis that found that the plates will cost $2.3 million per year and the state will reap more than $70 million in revenue. According to a state Legislature bill from 10 years ago, the state can charge up to $25 for a license plate, but is not required to levy such a fee and since 2009 has not imposed the cost.

“The current license plates are satisfactory for cashless tolling and red light cameras, according to the Thruway Authority and law enforcement,” the resolution said. “Nowhere in the law does it state that license plate design replacement is mandatory, and while some plates may be peeling or fading, motorists should not be forced to pay additional fees because of the inferior product that the state purchased.”

Tedisco said New Yorkers with multiple vehicles are going to suffer monetarily. He said New Yorkers are not thrilled about this proposal, which came out about a month ago.

“They’re not happy about it because they’re starting to understand what it’s all about,” the senator said. “We’ve got some of the highest registration fees of any state.”

Tedisco called what Cuomo is doing “reverse Robin Hood” practices, noting the plates would be made cheaply by inmates at the Albany Correctional Facility.

The senator praised the county’s clerk, Kollar, for saying the charge is too much.

“I believe she’s doing a petition drive,” Tedisco said.

Meanwhile, Tedisco pointed out how New York state residents continue to leave. He said people 35 and younger are leaving what has been dubbed the “most unfriendly state in the nation.” He said 189,000 people left the state in 2018, and one million in the past decade. But he said he was proud of Fulton County’s legislators.

“I congratulate your leader, Mr. Wilson, and all of the supervisors here” Tedisco said. “I’m proud to represent the 45th Senatorial District, Fulton County.”

Lauria was one of only two supervisors — both Democrats — to speak publicly prior to the vote.

He asked that if the bill does pass, that any revenue be given back to the counties to pay for unfunded mandates handed down by the state.

“We’re in a rural area,” noted Gloversville 5th Ward Councilman Gregory Young.

He said young people in Fulton County depend on their cars and keeping them on the road.

“These fees are outrageous,” Young said. “I’m glad we are standing up.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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