By on October 29, 2008

In a four-hundred-page review of Suffolk County, New York’s financial situation released earlier this month, officials highlight the rationale for adding automated traffic enforcement devices. “At this point the County needs to make hard decisions,” the 2009 county budget review states. “Do we raise property taxes? Do we seek state approval to raise the overall sales tax rate? …Do we raise revenue from traffic tickets by instituting red light cameras?” Yes, well, county cannot install red light cameras without first obtaining permission from the state legislature. Since 2001, Albany’s frustrated the county’s attempts to convince lawmakers in Albany to grant this authority. Photo enforcement supporters believe that support from Governor David Patterson (D) will finally deliver the changes in state law needed to begin operations. The county has even begun taking steps to establish a parking violations bureau to handle the photo tickets.

“You know, we’ve been trying to get this legislation passed forever,” Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer William Lindsay explained in a February meeting. “And this year it was put in the governor’s suggested legislative package, so we’re very hopeful that it will get passed… if we don’t establish the Parking Violations Bureau, we don’t get the revenue.” Another of the county’s elected lawmakers, Kate Browning, at a September meeting pointed to the reason behind the governor’s support.”What this letter (from Governor Patterson) is saying is that we could gain $3.5 million in annual revenue from the red light camera program,” Browning said.

For the past two years Suffolk County has actually included this amount in its official budget projections, expecting state lawmakers would concede to their request. This turned out to be a costly mistake. “County Executive Tom Suozzi put it in his budget last year for revenue, it never came through,” Deputy County Executive Ben Zwirn said at a September 18 meeting. “There’s a hole in the budget because of that. He’s put it in his budget again this year.”

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19 Comments on “NY County Admits Cameras Are For Revenue...”

  • avatar

    You will see budget crises in many counties – caused by the real estat crash. I lived in Suffolk County, in beautiful Quogue. As house prices went up, our real estate taxes turned predatory. Nobody believed the prices would ever go down ….

  • avatar

    Or they could make some cuts in spending…

    I love it when politicians say the ONLY way to make up for budget shortfalls is to increase taxes.

    Sounds like Tony V. here in the land of fruits and nuts.

  • avatar

    What? It’s not for the safety of the children? Shocking!

  • avatar

    I grew up in Suffolk. I left in 1993, never to return (to live, anyway). NY will squeeze every last dime out of you; it’s probably one of the few places where you’ll struggle on a six figure income…

    But the pizza’s really good!!

  • avatar
    John B

    This sounds like Ontario’s experiment (brief thankfully) with photo radar in 1994-95. A cash grab simple and plain.

  • avatar


    It’s an old joke. If you are looking for politically correct point of view join democratic party.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    haha I live in Suffolk! i haven’t seen all that many red light cameras, but they recently installed one near me that has a sensor that makes the light suddenly turn red when you get to it, even if there’s nobody approaching the intersection.

  • avatar

    Scorched Earth> Hopefully that sensor is a ground sensor that works as well as parking/light ground sensors do for motorcycles.

    I can’t tell you guys how many times garages have refused to issue me tickets, gates didn’t raise, lights didn’t bother to turn green for a LONG time in the middle of nowhere because my bike can’t set off the sensor. Blah.

  • avatar

    Most NY counties get large amounts of State aid (to help mitigate huge State mandates – like 1/2 the cost of the most costly Medicaid system in the nation).

    Of course, now that NY State is going broke, counties will suffer – no mandate relief (cuz ya gotta Save The Children) but no more fiscal help. $10K + property tax bills for modest suburban homes are becoming more common.

  • avatar

    Wow, 10k/year is more than yearly rent in alot of places….Might as well rent when you pass $1k/month in property taxes, no?

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    robstar, the rent would reflect tax load for owner.

    you could rent small apartment though for that maybe somewhere on LI.

    I would never dream of going back, unless I was having some nightmare. $10k tax is for average, not anything fancy.

  • avatar


    Public officials being honest with the public???

    Go Figure….

  • avatar

    $3.5 million in revenue sounds like it would be pocket change to a governmental entity. Also, according to 2006 population statistics Suffolk county’s population is 1,469,715 , which comes out to an extra $2.40 a person per year.
    That’s not much revenue for something that is reviled by most everyone. I certainly would pay an extra $2.40 a year to not have any red light cameras.

  • avatar

    Suffolk County screws the motorist worse than anywhere in NY save NY City proper.

    They have a horrible “traffic violations bureau”, which is not a real Court of Law. You can’t negotiate, and the “Judges” are not real, they are DMV employees. To call this place biased against the motorist is a vast understatement. First time offense in twenty years ? Decent reason for the offense ? Tough, the civil servant “judge” will convict you-no mercy or intelligence. Don’t forget to pay the NY Points tax on the way out, something the Upstate driver misses when her gets even a small deal on that first time ticket. The only good thing is that the clowns at TVB don’t have the power to put you in jail-which is why this screwing is allowed to continue.

    While DWI is a bad thing, the penalties in Suffolk are harsher than the law seizure is common. Mass transit is nonexistent.

    Yes, Suffolk County is probably the worst place in NY, save NYC. Most of the State is actually decent for the Motorist, but those who live on Long Island get a very short end of the stick.

    A few cities and other Counties in NY dream of camera revenue, but luckily the Legislature, in one of the few times they listen “to the people”, have not extended the “temporary demonstration project” for red light cams in NYC. Congestion Pricing also didn’t fly.

    There are a few nice suburbs on Long Island. Unfortunately, they are ON Long Island.

  • avatar

    While DWI is a bad thing, the penalties in Suffolk are harsher than the law seizure is common. Mass transit is nonexistent.

    Let me guess: the frugal sucker with the paid off 5-year old car gets his car seized.

    The exec with with a two year lease on his A8 gets the car back.

    Am I wrong?

  • avatar

    correct ! The leased car is owned by the leasing company, who is not “wrong”, and didn’t “drive drunk”. This is like observing the mortgage holder when real estate is seized. Really, what happens is the ten year old Toyota is seized, and the working poor family is SOL. The reason for this is politics…the municipality does not want to take on the Banks and (till recently) car finance companies. Seizure plays well with MADD, and the guy on his tenth DWI, but as public policy is a botch. Nassau and Suffolk Counties, most all of Long Island, are strict for seizure and prosectution. MADD is very proud of their work there. For what it’s worth.

  • avatar

    Another ex-Suffolk Co resident here, having left for college in ’74, and after I graduated in ’78 never looked back.

    A few years ago I sold my late aunt’s house in Nassau Co (the other LI county for the non-NY people here), a small cape on a tiny piece of land, and the prop. taxes were $12K a year! Even if you have a good job, you end up living a lower middle class life on the Island.

  • avatar

    Wow, lots of L.I. bashers on here. While I agree it is expensive to live on Long Island there is also many great things about the island. Most of your high taxes pay for some of the best education a child can get and a top notch volunteer Fire/EMS service, along with beautiful parks, historical towns and tons of jobs. There beaches are excellent, infastructure is vast and the close proximity to arguably the Best City in the world is also some of the reasons why it is expensive to live here. That being said I am not trying to start a debate on why Long Island is great yada yada, I just am defending where I live and trying to shed some light on why it is so expensive. The wage paid on Long Island is alot higher than most of the nation so it is all relative.

    Now regarding the article. Red light cameras have been studied and some statistics show that more accidents occur at these intersections than prior to the camera being installed. I think installing red light cameras for the purpose of generating revenue is just more fuel for the allready corrupt political agenda.

  • avatar

    MMMmmmm, revenue enforcement.
    In days of old, unwary travelers would sometimes be bushwhacked along their route by revenue-seeking bandits. Times haven’t changed much, have they?

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