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Gov. George E. Pataki has relinquished the state's claim to nearly $23 million in traffic fines that have traditionally flowed into local government coffers. Pataki signed legislation rescinding a stipulation that traffic fines be paid according to the infractions motorists were first charged with instead of those they eventually were convicted of in local traffic courts.

Under the original stipulation, fines for speeding tickets written by state troopers would have had to go to the state treasury instead of to local governments. Localities were authorized to impose an additional $10 surcharge on the tickets to cover the costs of adjudicating the cases.

Repealing the stipulation means that any motorist charged the $10 surcharge should seek a rebate through the local government that imposed the added fee, said Edward Farrell, head of the State Conference of Mayors. "Say, 'We want our 10 dollars back,' and they will get it," Farrell said.

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