Red-light camera administration fee repeal awaits Bellone’s signature

Red-light camera administration fee repeal awaits Bellone’s signature

Red-light camera tickets will be less expensive in the future after the Suffolk County Legislature voted to repeal the $30 administration fee. File photo by Phil Corso

Suffolk County red-light camera offenders will find their bill will be a little less in
the future.

County legislators passed a veto-proof resolution, 12-6, to repeal the $30 administration fee that was an addition to the $50 ticket at their general meeting Dec. 6. The resolution was sponsored by Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga). Trotta has been an opponent of the red-light camera ticket program since its inception more than a decade ago. The $30 administration fee was added a few years after the program began.

The bill now awaits County Executive Steve Bellone’s (D) signature.

All 11 Republican legislators were in favor of the legislation and Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) also voted for its repeal. The remaining Democrats voted against it.

Trotta has called the program a “money grab to generate revenue by the county executive.”

In a phone interview, Trotta said it’s the equivalent of people going a few miles over the speed limit.

“It’s not a safety issue, it’s a scam,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon) said in a statement that those who voted “no” did so because of the county’s budget.

“Repealing the administrative fee for red-light camera tickets is a fine idea and is not what our caucus has an issue with,” Richberg said. “This problem is we have a law on the books that says the Legislature cannot remove any funds out of the budget unless there is an offset, which there is not currently. Without a budget offset we are knowingly putting a $7 million hole in the county’s 2023 budget, which was voted on and passed less than a month ago. We’re not able to amend the budget until February, so until then there will be gaps that could lead to shortages in other areas.”

Trotta also acknowledged the problems with the budget. While he is against the red-light cameras entirely, he said removing them completely presently does not make sense.

“We’re in a bind where we have to be very careful,” Trotta said. “We have to start cutting before we can start cutting the cameras.”

Trotta said the current administration fee was deemed illegal by a state Supreme Court judge. The ruling was handed down in 2020, and the county has appealed it. With the red-light program being a state initiative, the county cannot charge more than other municipalities in the state, according to the court.

Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for Bellone, said the county executive would sign the bill. Once Bellone signs the legislation and it is filed with the Office of the Secretary of State of New York, the law will take effect.