Paul Margiotta is set to head Suffolk Countiy's new Traffic...

Paul Margiotta is set to head Suffolk Countiy's new Traffic Violation Bureau. (March 13, 2013) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Suffolk's new traffic violation bureau will be ready to open April 1 when the state Department of Motor Vehicles will transfer 20,000 pending cases to the county, according to the nominee to head the agency.

The county legislature's Ways and Means Committee last week approved acting County Attorney Paul Margiotta as the bureau's director. The full legislature will vote Tuesday on the nomination.

County Executive Steve Bellone proposed the new agency as a way to generate new revenue. But aides say the county only hopes to break even this year because of start-up costs that include hiring new personnel, $2.5 million for office renovations and the purchase of new equipment.

The county should be better able to estimate the new revenue within about three months, said Bellone aide Thomas Melito.

The traffic bureau will perform that has been done by the state DMV, district court and the county's red light camera program. In addition to DMV cases, the bureau will take over an estimated 9,000 red light tickets and 12,000 parking summons, Margiotta said.

Margiotta said he intends to make the new bureau as easy to use as possible. "They are going to be treated like customers and run like a retail operation," he said.

Legis. Lynne Nowick (R-St. James) urged Margiotta to create a system that would ensure that motorists with tickets do not wait hours if a police officer does not show up for a hearing. Margiotta said he'd ultimately like to allow motorists to check case schedules online.

The new bureau will have a staff of 20 full-time county employees -- including two full-time prosecutors -- and 10 part-timers.

Four administrative hearing officers will be on duty each day, appointed with the approval of Suffolk's Administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs.

With Paul LaRocco

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