31 January 2005
You'll wonder where the yellow went
Six million dollars in the Cleveland budget this year is supposed to come, says Mayor Jane Campbell, from as-yet-uninstalled cameras to catch drivers running red lights.
The city would have to issue about 150 tickets a day at $150 a shot to be able to meet Campbell's goal. What's most interesting about this is that she didn't even pay lip service to "public safety"; this is a revenue measure, pure and simple, and, says Director of Finance Robert Baker, "Cities that have done this have been astounded by the amount collected."
Cleveland is budgeting for $484 million in expenditures this year. Oklahoma City, about ten percent larger, will spend $697 million this year; the fine for running a red light or a STOP sign is $172.
(Update, 4 February, 7:40 pm: Her Honor has changed her tune slightly.)
Posted at 1:44 PM to Driver's Seat
Holy crap!! $6 mil divided by $150 is 40,000. There are currently 334 days left in the year. That means they would have to issue 120 tickets a day if the cameras went online tomorrow. Now subtract the cost of installation, the system and upkeep, you may have to start issing 300 tickets a day to hit that $6 mil mark.
And next year when folks start stopping at those lights & revenue goes down, the fines will go up. We'll see a downward spiral until the first (& probably only) person to run a stop light will get hit with a $6 mil fine.
Actually, since the city will be contracting with a private company to install and maintain the lights, which will want its piece of the action, it may end up even worse than that, especially if the city has to guarantee them X amount of revenue (as is the case in, say, Washington, DC, where the camera operators get, as of spring '02, 43 percent of the take off the top).
Now watch them slice a second or two off the yellow time.