Doubling traffic ticket fees returns to Suffolk budget plan

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A highly controversial plan to double the traffic ticket surcharge in Suffolk is back on the table for the second time this year, as the county faces a budget deficit of about $130 million. 

The proposal was initially made last year by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in his 2017 budget. It was withdrawn after backlash, but county legislators held a hearing on it again Tuesday.

The proposal would double the surcharge on traffic tickets from $55 to $110. 

Months later, there still seems to be little support from legislators, especially Republicans. They say the county should focus on spending cuts rather than fee hikes.

"It's not a surcharge. It's a tax," says Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Smithtown). "The county executive is afraid to raise taxes, doesn't want to raise taxes, and shouldn't raise taxes, because we don't have a revenue problem – we have a spending problem." 

Legislator Al Krupski (D-Southold) has proposed freezing salaries of elected officials for four years as a way of cutting the deficit. Other ideas include getting concessions from county workers. 

Bellone issued a statement Tuesday saying he's encouraged to see legislators "taking decisive action to address the county's budget challenges."

Budget talks for next year's spending plan will not begin in earnest until September.

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