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Proposed traffic, parking ticket fees move ahead in Suffolk

Suffolk County would get $3 million in new annual revenues from proposed fees for overdue parking and traffic ticket payments, according to a financial impact statement released Thursday.

Fines for parking tickets would double after 30 days and triple after 60 days, under a bill by County Executive Steve Bellone, which passed a legislative committee Thursday. Tickets for moving violations would have additional late fees of between $50 and $100.

Paul Margiotta, executive director of Suffolk's Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, said the county needs a way to collect on delinquent tickets, which now total $3.8 million.

The county has 14,754 unpaid parking tickets on its books, he said. Since last April, when the county formed its own traffic bureau to raise money, 67 percent of parking tickets have gone unpaid.

Margiotta said motorists could avoid the new fees by paying tickets on time. "All you have to do is pay a ticket," Margiotta said.

Tom Vaughn, Bellone's director of intergovernmental relations, said the fees are "about holding people accountable."

Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) said the fees would disproportionately affect lower-income families living paycheck to paycheck.

"Working-class families are the ones that will be hit hardest with those types of fees," she said. "They're getting hit over the head, hammered, for a mistake."

The committee passed the bill Thursday by a vote of 4-1, with Browning voting no. The measure goes to the full legislature Tuesday.

The bill also would create fees of $250 for booting a car and a $350 for towing.

After protests from motorists and lawmakers, the county last year rescinded a $50 administrative fee that was being charged even when motorists were found not guilty or charges were dismissed.

No new fees would be added to red-light camera tickets, officials said.

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