Report: New York official improperly waived snowmobile fees

Publish Date: 
Aug 11, 2014
By Holly J. Wagner

ALBANY, N.Y. - New York's Department of Motor Vehicles is acting to recover $10,665 in unpaid snowmobile registration fees following a determination by the state inspector general that a former clerk of upstate Fulton County improperly exempted club-owned snowmobiles from registration fees from 2004 to 2012.

Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott's office said Friday that former Fulton County Clerk William Eschler, who retired from the post last year, improperly gave the snowmobile clubs - including a group he participated in – government registrations to avoid the required $45 registration fee.

The state charges $45 for snowmobile club members and $100 for non-club members to register snowmobiles. The clubs receive state funding for trail maintenance, but must register any club-owned snowmobiles as private vehicles. State law does allow for government registrations, which waive the fees, for snowmobiles “solely for emergency purposes, for example volunteer fire or EMT companies.”

More than 18,000 snowmobiles are annually registered in New York, but fewer than 500 are owned by government entities. According to the DMV database of snowmobile registrations, the Fulton County Clerk’s office improperly processed a total of 237 snowmobile club registrations (including renewals) as government snowmobiles from 2004 through 2007, when the practice ended as a result of the inspector general’s investigation.

The report says Eschler testified that he believed the clubs qualified for government registrations because they were used for trail maintenance.

The DMV issued a new snowmobile registration from in March of this year to avoid any future confusion. Meanwhile, DMV is working to recoup the lost fees.

Download the inspector general’s report HERE.