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Krista McNallyOct 25, 2017, 3:56 pmOct 25, 2017, 3:57 pm

Nonprofit sues Suffolk for fee hikes that are causing some residents to relocate

Legislators call on officials to decrease costs tied to nearly every aspect of life

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HAUPPAUGE — Suffolk County fee hikes have sparked a lawsuit and caused some residents to relocate, now a group of legislators is speaking out against the fee increases.

"We hear from residents in this county in our offices every day that people can't afford to live here anymore," Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi said.

Suffolk County Legislator Cilmi joined his colleagues in Hauppauge on Wednesday to call for fees to be suspended immediately, speaking up for residents like Commack native Mark Costa who say the fees are extraordinarily high.

When Costa's home alarm system went off once last year while he was on vacation, police responded to the home and cleared it of any suspicious activity. Two weeks later, he got a bill for a $50 registration fee and a $100 penalty for not registering the alarm — though he says he was never notified about having the alarm registered.

"I pay monthly through my alarm company, and now I have to pay every two years to have my house monitored in the event that the alarm goes off which is ridiculous because that should be part of the day-to-day operations that the police department has," Costa said.

The alarm fee is one of many that residents say have significantly increased in Suffolk County. The red light camera fee, car registration fee and mortgage fee are among a slew of charges that residents must pay.

"There is a law on the books that specifically says you cannot charge in terms of a fee for a service then the service actually costs to provide," Legislator Cilmi said.

The county is facing a lawsuit from a nonprofit for over $65 million in money that the county made from the fees.

"I anticipated the financial hardship this increase would make," County Clerk Judith Pascale said. She raised her objection to the fee increases to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone last year.

In response to the outcry over the fee increases, a spokesperson from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s office said, “If Rob Trotta and other legislators care that deeply, they should stop complaining and simply do their jobs. We will work with any legislator of any political party that puts forth a credible alternative to any existing county fee"

Costa isn’t going to wait for officials to do something about the costly fees. He plans to relocate to North Carolina.

"The cost of living down south is much, much cheaper than the cost of living here in New York," Costa said.

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