NY towns to keep traffic fine money

| 12/30/2004

The state of New York is backing off on its plan to take nearly $23 million in traffic fines that have traditionally flowed into local governments’ coffers.

Gov. George Pataki has signed legislation rescinding the provision in the budget he proposed in January. That provision stipulated that traffic fines be paid according to the infractions motorists were first charged with, even when drivers plead to a lesser offense to settle the charges and avoid surcharges on their vehicle insurance bills.

Practically speaking, the change would have required fines for speeding tickets written by troopers go to the state treasury instead of local governments. To make up for the lost revenue, localities were authorized to impose an additional $10 surcharge on the tickets to cover the costs of adjudicating the cases, The Associated Press reported.

But after an outcry from local governments, the Legislature began the process of repealing the traffic-fine provision of the budget even before it could be enforced. The Assembly approved the bill – S7757 – in September eliminating the provision and the Senate followed suit in November. Pataki completed the process when he inked the bill Dec. 15.

“There was no intent to eliminate a revenue stream for local governments,” said Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope. “When they realized how deep the revenue cut was, we knew we had to do something.”