From the NY Times:
With great élan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that the city did not need to raise taxes later this year. No one jumped up to argue that point.
Taxes, however, are not the only way to trim the public hide.
No mayor for decades has been able to resist the lure of raising revenue with fines, the tax that dares not say its name. During one blitz in the 1990s, the city was ticketing electric pony rides outside stores on Myrtle Avenue in Queens. Around the same time, a driver in the Bronx discovered that the police had figured out a way to abruptly trigger a red light near the Bronx Zoo. They needed to bring fresh supplies of ballpoint pens every day to keep up with the workload of drivers caught running the surprise light.
In any event, the march of time and fines is unmistakable: in 2002, the city collected $380 million in parking fines. The mayor’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for $518 million, a modest increase from the current $513 million. These revenues are part of a larger bundle of fines for violations of codes covering areas like sanitation, health and taxis. That sum will reach $802 million, up from $786 million this year and $457 million 10 years ago.
Two points should not be forgotten in these discussions. The city’s overall budget, buttressed by higher property values, has climbed by about 50 percent in those 10 years; and quite a few fines cost more to issue and collect than they are worth.