May 21, 2008

Legislator Gonsalves Opposes Unfair New Fees

Nassau County Legislator Norma L. Gonsalves voted against the imposition of new fees on county residents.  In a fractured vote, the Nassau County Legislature voted to approve new fees to be imposed on Nassau County drivers who have certain traffic tickets dismissed.  “Our residents are already being forced to pay $4 for a gallon of gasoline, and now the County Executive and the Democrat Majority have found another way to squeeze money out of drivers’ pockets,” said Legislator Gonsalves. 

The new legislation imposes a $15 fee for dismissed “production of proof” traffic infractions.  Such infractions include failure to produce a driver’s license, proof of inspection, registration card, insurance card or handicapped parking permit, as well as certain equipment violations.  Normally, if a person receives a ticket for such an infraction, the ticket is dismissed if he or she can provide proof of the documentation or repair.  Now, if you receive a ticket for not carrying your license or for having a tail light out, but you produce the license or proof of repair to the court, the ticket will be dismissed, but you will still be charged a $15 dismissal fee.

The new law will also assess a $15 fee upon a person who elects to pay his or her fine in installments.  “This is outrageous because often a person requests an installment plan because he or she cannot pay the full amount at once.  To impose an additional fee on them is unconscionable,” said Legislator Gonsalves.  This new fee is expected to generate $1.4 million dollars for the county. 

“The county is facing deficits exceeding $500 million over the next three years.  The County Executive should be working to find ways to trim expenses and cut spending throughout the county instead of creating new fees to pull more money out of residents’ pockets to fill the deficit,” said Legislator Gonsalves.  Since the County Executive took office in 2002, more than 25 fees have been created or increased countywide.  

Nassau County, with a population of 1.3 million people, is larger than 7 states, but the county’s budget is larger than 16 states.  “There is plenty of room in the budget to cut spending,” Gonsalves pointed out.  “Since my vote against the ordinance was not enough to prevent its passing, I urge all residents to drive carefully, be mindful to carry all necessary documentation with you at all times, and check your equipment for broken tail lights, etc.  Together, we can prevent this fee from being imposed,” said Legislator Gonsalves.