Though it appears that the new legislation that ends plea deals and sends traffic fines to the state will be rescinded, the Town of Tonawanda wants to be on the safe side.
A public hearing was held Monday night for the town to impose a $10 surcharge to traffic tickets as a way to recoup 40 percent of the money it would lose to the state under the existing law.
The Assembly already has repealed the legislation, which went into effect in August, prohibiting plea bargaining for traffic infractions on state roads and enabling the state to collect the money from the fines. This month, the State Senate is expected to also rescind the legislation.
According to court fine revenues from 2003, the town brought in $1,092,177. With the legislation in place, the town would lose $140,845 to the state. But with the $10 surcharge imposed, the town would be able to recoup $61,890.
The surcharge law would apply to infractions from September 2004 to September 2005. Other towns also have adopted similar laws as a way to recover some of the revenue losses caused by the legislation. Monday night's public hearing during the Town Board meeting produced no comments from residents.
Councilman Joseph M. Shiah said the surcharge is just because it targets only individuals and doesn't put financial stress on property owners.
"If you don't want to pay the surcharge, don't speed in Tonawanda," he said.
Supervisor Ronald H. Moline and other town officials expressed optimism that the State Senate also would repeal the legislation. The Town Board has decided to wait a month to see what the Senate does before voting on the surcharge law.