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North Jersey Legislator Takes Aim at Red-Light Camera Money

State Sen. Michael Doherty drafts a bill to pull red-light camera revenue out of the hands of municipalities.

A North Jersey state senator is pushing legislation to force municipalities to give up revenue from red-light cameras and challenging the notion the cameras are for safety, but a Gloucester Township official questions the sharing aspect of the bill.

State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Hunterdon-Somerset-Warren), who has previously sponsored legislation aimed at banning the cameras outright, fired directly at town officials in drafting the new bill, claiming the revenue from tickets—which run drivers $85 per violation in Gloucester Township—is the real purpose behind having red-light cameras in place.

Instead of leaving the money in the towns’ hands, Doherty’s draft bill, which has yet to be introduced, would divert all red-light camera revenue to the state Highway Safety Fund, to be disbursed as needed for safety measures around the state.

“This legislation allows towns to keep the cameras that local officials say make their intersections safer, but not the ticket revenues their cameras generate,” said Doherty in a statement. “Every mayor and local official who is on record saying cameras are about safety, not money, should support this bill. If they don’t, it will prove their previous support of cameras under the guise of safety was fraudulent.”

But Gloucester Township Business Administrator Tom Cardis says dumping the ticket revenues into a general state fund is the wrong move. He asserted the township put in the work to get approved for the state's pilot program, and should maintain control of fines generated by its red-light cameras.

“My criticism of this is it implies we've done something wrong, and we've done nothing wrong,” Cardis said. "We made our application—which a lot of municipalities did not do, and that's on them that they did not take the initiative to do this; it was available to everybody."

Cardis also pointed out that when the state Department of Transportation suspended ticketing from cameras in June 2012 in 21 of 25 municipalities approved for the state's pilot program, Gloucester Township was not among them. The state ordered the 21 municipalities to certify their cameras met the program's statutory requirements.

"We were very diligent in making sure that we followed the letter of the law," he said.

Doherty maintains the money generated by red-light camera fines would be put to better use in a dedicated state fund.

“Under current law, most red-light camera ticket revenues go to supporting bloated municipal budgets, which is unproductive,” said Doherty. "How many towns and local officials will continue to demand the opportunity to install red-light cameras or fight to keep the cameras they already have if their share of ticket revenues is cut off?”

Cardis defended the safety aspect of the red-light cameras, but rhetorically asked in specific response to Doherty's proposal: "Do we share the drunk-driving convictions we get in the town here? What if we're making more money than it's costing us to issue the tickets for drunk driving?" he said. "What about for speeding violations? What if we're bringing in more money than it's costing us to issue those violations? Where do you stop? What do we share? Should we share everything?"

Gloucester Township issued a total of 38,766 traffic tickets between July 2010 and December 2011 as a result of driving actions captured by 10 cameras along Blackwood Clementon Road and later deemed illegal by police upon review.

The township keeps $73.50 of each guilty verdict or plea from the red-light camera tickets—the remaining $11.50 goes to the state. It also pays the company that operates the cameras, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, $47,500 per month for the 10 cameras, for a total of $570,000 per year.

Robert miotla January 18, 2013 at 03:53 PM
These cameras have never been about safety. The most dangerous intersections, those without right turn on red don't even have cameras. They are only placed where the most revenue can be generated.
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Bingo ................Been Blowharding about that for over an YEAR
Jim January 18, 2013 at 06:10 PM
The videos the Industry puts on TV show us that nearly all the crashes occur after the signal has been red for 5 or more seconds. It's obvious that that real late running occurs because the motorist (a visitor or distracted/impaired local) completely misses seeing the signal, because it isn't prominent enough. Cameras don't make an intersection more prominent. Here's how to make a signal more prominent, cheaply and quickly, without cameras. A. Paint "signal ahead" on the pavement. A study sponsored by the Florida DOT found that doing so could cut running by up to 74%. B. Make the signal lights bigger in diameter or, add another signal head. The Texas Transp. Inst. (TTI) found that doing either one could cut crashes 47%. C. Add backboards on the signal heads. The TTI found that doing so could cut crashes 32%. D. Install brighter bulbs in the street lights (just at the intersection) and put up lighted name signs for the cross street. These things should be tried at a city's worst intersections before putting in red light cameras. Doing these things, instead of putting in cameras, avoids having the extra rearenders that occur when drivers overreact to the presence of cameras.
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Thanks Jim for doing your Homework , Hey Mayor Mayer are u listening "SIR" ...........Jim here gave you some info free of charge .
Darren Gladden January 18, 2013 at 06:43 PM
forgot the song http://youtu.be/TE891IHxyV8 ;-)
Joe January 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Excellent ! This research wasn't done for us because it's all about the money.
GTWatchdawg January 19, 2013 at 01:14 PM
If this goes through, the spending spree could be brought to a screeching halt in Municipalities like Gloucester Township and others. The days of frivolous spending are numbered Mr. Mayer and Council.
Big Daddy 1 January 19, 2013 at 02:41 PM
With all those statistics, I don't recall seeing our revenue. Maybe someone can point that out for me (or provide it).
Frank January 20, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Red light cameras are cash cows for townships. Shame on the township.
Darren Gladden January 20, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Hey I just Heard Deptford Township does not collect the Red Light Cam money , The county get's the MONEY "Really".....Why does GT get to keep the money from the cameras .......What is going on PEEPS and the Peeps in Ariz that collecting MILLIONS or maybe Billions how come know one knows anything about that LLC COMPANY ...........SMH wake up people this Mayor teams are not fulled with the DO-GOODERS you think they are ....SHADY CATS my friends .....Just care , I do http://youtu.be/tgJgy0PRaJQ Now can I ask you a question do we have any air testing reports from any of our schools....Please Sir answer the question but Let's go buy an APC who care's what they breath everyday ........WAKE UP People and think do you want these Soap Stars running our town for 4 more years .....WE need change ......Hey does anyone want to be Mayor
Darren Gladden January 20, 2013 at 03:37 AM
American Traffic Solutions Inc. - www.atsol.com/ American Traffic Solutions, Inc. is a leading provider of technology and business solutions for road safety camera, red light camera, and electronic toll .............. Why do we send our money to be spent in Scottsdale, AZ . Hey ATS can you give back SOMETHING to GT to improve our town US people made you MILLIONS here in New Jersey ......People maybe it's time for weekly PHONE call to Scottsdale ....Just care , I do
Darren Gladden January 20, 2013 at 03:47 AM
PS .....did not want to say it but Tom yes you are doing something WRONG .. Maybe YOU SHOULD focus a little more about bringing Bussiness and growth to the Town Tom and not so much on your let's get rich Fast scams and make people for bad about themselves for doing Rolling Stops and punish them 85 bucks for in Tough times make the people pay as Long as you have the power ...SMH ......O people of GT WAKE UP we need REAL CHANGE this year

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