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The Suffolk County Traffic Violations Agency is going to refund over $400,000.00 in administrative fines due to motorist who beat their traffic violations in Trial, and the Agency will not longer charge this cost in the future. Instead it will increase the fee for motorists found guilty to $55 as a way of recouping "lost revenue". The county legislature Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that bars the new Traffic & Parking Violations Agency from charging the fee in the majority of cases that are dismissed an issue that had become a sore spot with many residents and lawmakers.

How this fine ever came to be in the first place can only be understood from the perspective of revenue, not from the perspective of justice. As Legislator Robert Calarco the bill's sponsor says "To make those folks pay, I just didn't think it was fair".

Since Suffolk opened its own traffic court "the Suffolk County Traffic Violations Agency" in April, allowing it to keep more of the ticket revenue it had been sending to New York State, it has handled more than 50,000 cases and collected more than $10 million in fines. The default reduction offered for most traffic violations and speeds under 25 MPH is a 1202-b2 a parking ticket costing in the ball park of $250 each.

Nearly $500,000 of the total came from fees on dismissed tickets, officials said. In a common instance, motorists who were cited for broken taillights, but who had their tickets dismissed after making repairs according to the guidelines of state law, still had to pay a $50 fee. Aides to County Executive Steve Bellone previously defended the fees, saying such tickets were responsible for clerical costs even if the motorists were not guilty. But after complaints from the public and county lawmakers, Bellone backed Calarco's bill, and said he would issue refunds to the thousands of drivers who have already paid the fees after dismissals.

Legislative budget analysts have said fee refunds for 2013 could approach $400,000. The bill passed Tuesday also increases the fee for motorists found guilty to $55 as a way of recouping lost revenue. In other action, the legislature unanimously approved an eight-year contract between Suffolk County and its police detectives union.

The pact, backdated to 2011, withholds retroactive pay but provides the union's 344 members with raises totaling 18.25 percent from 2014 to 2018. The administration budget aides estimated that the detectives contract could cost Suffolk $52.6 million through 2018, while legislative budget analysts predicted $47.8 million in costs.

According to the "revenue reality" it looks like time to hire less detectives and to hire more street cops. 

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