Critics: Litany of Suffolk fees are just taxes in disguise

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SMITHTOWN -

There is a move to limit the amount of fees residents pay in Suffolk County, as critics say they are just taxes in disguise.

In Suffolk, there are fees for processing red light camera infractions, fees related to mortgages and fees for false alarms in private homes.

“They're illegal. A fee is supposed to be for a service rendered,” says Republican County Legislator Rob Trotta. “The state of New York requires that you ask them for permission to do a tax. What they're doing is getting around it this way.”

Trotta proposed a bill requiring that any fees charged for services must pay for the services without generating a surplus. It also would prevent any potential surplus from fees going toward the county’s general fund.

So far, Democrats have not supported the bill. The Legislature's Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory says fees have become a “necessary evil” and have helped keep down property taxes.

A lawsuit challenging the legality of the fees was filed last year. The case is still pending.

The issue is slated to be discussed during a public hearing at the Suffolk Legislature Building in Smithtown tonight.

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