COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County Clerk Kathy Sinnott Gardner is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend a $12.50 fee being charged for new veteran status driver’s licenses and other documents.
Sinnott Gardner said state officials took a good idea — allowing eligible drivers to have their veteran status on their licenses — and made it a bad one by reaching into the pockets of those who served in the military.
“They totally blew it by charging our veterans $12.50 for this honor,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Cuomo issued a press release extolling the fact that the DMV is allowing honorably discharged veterans to have their status placed on licenses and other DMV-issued photo documents.
The Oct. 3 release made no mention of the fact that veterans will have to cough up $12.50 to get the veteran status on their licenses.
In the press release, Cuomo stated, “The men and women of the armed forces have sacrificed so much for our state and nation, and it is only appropriate that we do everything we can to support them.” He said the new designation on licenses will make it easier for veterans to get benefits to which they are entitled.
Sinnott Gardner said some veterans showing up at the county-operated Motor Vehicle offices located in Cooperstown and Oneonta were very disappointed to learn that they had to fork over money to the state to get the designation on their licenses.
She estimated that about 90 percent of the county clerks across New York who operate local motor vehicle offices are also opposed to the new fee on veterans.
“I just can’t help but feel that this wonderful idea was simply all based on greed,” she said. “Haven’t our veterans already paid enough? Any veteran who wants to display their status on their license or ID card should be allowed to do so and the state should issue these amendments for free.”