Erie County plans to oppose license plate fees

Resolution clocked in opposes $25 fee

Mike Baggerman
September 12, 2019 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – The license plate controversy will be one of the first things addressed by the Erie County Legislature in their return from August recess on Thursday.

Erie County Legislator John Bruso, who is also the democratic majority leader, has introduced a resolution opposing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $25 fee for the new license plates that will begin in April for license plates that are ten years or older. 

“I just think it’s a bad idea,” Bruso said. “I think the timing is bad and the idea is bad. Outward appearances, it looks like a cash grab and I’m against that. I don’t think a mandate should come from the state saying we have to turn in our license plates that are perfectly good.”

The resolution specifically asks Cuomo to not impose any new fee for the State-mandated change targeted at license plates that are legible and usable. It also asks the DMV to offer free replacement plates for any defective and peeling plates.

Republicans in Albany were quick to pounce in opposition to the governor’s proposal in August for a new license plate in the state. Democrats followed shortly after. Bruso said he wasn’t surprised that opposition to the controversy was bi-partisan because he said it’s a bad idea.

Governor Cuomo said the license plates are needed for the changing technology with tolling in New York State, which is anticipating a switch to cashless tolling by the end of 2020.

Bruso said he hopes there will be unanimous support for his resolution. However, his counterpart in the legislature, Minority Leader Joe Lorigo, said the resolution doesn’t go far enough.

“Simply expressing concern and urging the governor to waive the fee doesn’t go far enough,” Lorigo said while noting a similar resolution by the minority is asking the governor to waive the license plate fee entirely. “(Our resolution) demands the governor take action and demands the governor waive the fee.”

While the minority and majority’s legislation are similar, the conservative caucus’ resolution on license plates asks Erie County to support Rob Ortt’s bill to waive the license plate fees entirely. It also calls on New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, who is also the Transportation Committee Chairman, to hold public hearings throughout the state to hear from drivers about the replacements.

Lorigo said he hopes the majority will support the minority’s resolution. However, he said he will support the democratic resolution should the minority resolution not be voted on.

While the license plate is primarily a state issue that will ultimately be decided upon in Albany, Ortt said resolutions like the one that is expected to pass in Erie County can have an influence.

“This is a DMV issue,” Ortt said. “Who runs the DMVs? Your county clerks. That’s a unique aspect of New York State, which we also know from the illegal driver’s license issue. You see what the counties and county clerks have been able to do with that issue and the push back on that. The DMVs and the clerks are the one who are going to hear from constituents when it comes to this kind of fee.”

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