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Mayor Brown announces initiatives to adjust fines and fees on low-income Buffalo residents

Ryan Zunner

The latest phase of Buffalo’s reform agenda includes three new initiatives that will adjust fees and fines on low-income city residents.

Mayor Byron Brown called the initiatives an amnesty program that aimed at addressing economic inequalities in the city.

“The flat fees associated with these tickets may seem relatively small to some residents, while to others they are significant,” Brown said. “This program will allow the Buffalo Traffic Violations Agency to issue fines in accordance with one’s ability to pay.”

The traffic violations program is being called the Buffalo Motorist Assistance Program (BMAP), it will give residents who plead guilty to low-level moving and/or equipment violations an opportunity to present documents in court that show their income status. This program according to Mayor Brown will make fines equitable, while still maintaining a balance.

“This progressive sliding scale of fines for these types of tickets ensures poorer residents are not financially crippled by fines,” said Brown. “While at the same time maintaining a penalty structure that still dissuades.”

The announcements are part of Brown’s Buffalo Reform Agenda, announced in the wake of protests over racial inequality. 

The city is also reforming the way they collect water bills and service homes of low-income residents. That means an extended 12-month payment plan, and interest on bills and late fees are to be forgiven.  In order to be a part of the water bill amnesty program, homeowners must allow the isntallation of newer, advanced meters. 

The programs will go into effect July 1, and in total cover water bill late fees, low-level traffic violations, and waive late fees on parking tickets more than a year old, all based on income.

According to city records, more than 56,000 tickets will be eligble to have their late fees waived. 

Ryan Zunner joined WBFO in the summer of 2018 as an intern, before working his way up to reporter the following summer.
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