BUFFALO, NY - The City of Buffalo is making millions of dollars off of traffic tickets, almost two years after traffic court operations were transferred from the state to the city.
All that money is being funneled to City Hall, instead of part of it going to Albany. The numbers can be found in a new report from the city's traffic violations agency.
During the first month that Buffalo's Traffic Violations Agency was in operation, it made $33,000 in revenue.
That was July 2015. This past October, the agency brought in a whopping $350,000 in revenue -- proving that it is no doubt a money maker.
Two years ago, the state legislature and Buffalo Common Council approved the creation of a Traffic Violations Agency to be operated by the city. Before this, traffic tickets, specifically moving violations issued by police, were handled by the state, and part of the revenue would go to Albany. Drivers had no ability to plea bargain, in hopes of paying a lower fine or possibly shaving points off their insurance.
Now drivers can go to see a traffic prosecutor at City Hall, to plead down their ticket or get a hearing, if they feel they're not guilty. Numbers show big money being generated for the city budget.
From July 2015 to this past October, 49,000 tickets were written – bringing in $3.1 million dollars in revenue.
City officials have long sought this funding.
"Not a money grab, but just a money adjustment because why should the state get it and us not? We're utilizing our police, it's our police who are writing the tickets," said Common Council president Darius Pridgen.
2 On Your Side requested to speak to both Mayor Byron Brown and Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer -- both weren't available.
And, more than half of those drivers who got tickets ended up reaching a plea bargain. This shows drivers don't mind paying up rather than fighting the ticket. A traffic violations agency is something suburban municipalities have had for years -- Buffalo on this was a bit behind the times.