March 24, 2022
Picente & Bono Call for Elimination of New York State’s Expensive Fiber Optic Fee
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and Herkimer County Board of Legislators Chairman Jim Bono have called for the elimination of an expensive New York State Department of Transportation fiber optic fee that is restricting broadband access in their communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear how essential it is to have quality broadband infrastructure in place,” Picente said. “Oneida and Herkimer counties have placed a high priority in assessing our broadband networks and expanding into underserved areas, but the state’s expensive and unfair fiber optic installation fee places a huge obstacle in our path. It must be eliminated.”
Established by Chapter 59 of the state laws of 2019, the DOT imposes a $20,000 per mile fee on fiber optics installed in state right of ways. Picente and Bono support legislation introduced by Senator Michelle Hinchey (S.7494) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (A.8287) that would eliminate that fee.
In a support letter to both law makers, the county leaders said that the fee is “imposing an unnecessary tax burden and dramatically increasing the cost of expanding access to broadband” and that “it makes no sense to invest state and local resources to leverage new wireline broadband expansion projects” with such an exorbitant fee in place.
Both counties have recently completed a broadband assessment and mapping study, identified projects and public and private partners, and are prepared to move forward to address the needs their underserved communities.
“As Herkimer and Oneida counties are preparing to move forward with vital broadband expansion improvements into underserved areas, costs are becoming prohibitive due to unnecessary and high fees when this infrastructure is located on New York State highways,” Bono said. “If New York is serious about expanding the connectivity in rural areas, it needs to abolish these fees to make it more realistic and affordable for our residents and the private entities who are considering the investment.”