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Thursday, February 22, 2007

State Senate bill would strip cities of revenue

Jim Forsyth (photo)
WOAI Radio Reporter

Compromise Reached on Red Light Cameras

Would strip cities of much of the revenue from tickets

Thursday, February 22nd

As Balcones Heights prepares to switch on it's red light cameras, city officials should stop counting the cash they expect to collect from motorists photographed running red lights, 1200 WOAI news reported today.

A compromise hammered out in the Legislature would strip municipalities of half of the money they get from the tickets mailed to motorists.

State Senator John Carona, who heads the Senate Transportation Committee, tells 1200 WOAI news that considering the red light camera companies already take a hefty chunk, that will leave the cities with just enough money to maintain the cameras and mail out the tickets, which is the way it should be.

"Red light cameras were initially proposed as a means for better public safety are now being considered by cities as just another means to raise revenue," Carona said.

The compromise still has to be approved by the Legislature, and there are still some lawmakers who want the cameras outlawed entirely. State Senator Mark Jackson says they are still too 'Big Brother-ish' for him.

"If now cities are going to hide behind the cameras to raise money for a variety of purposes, for a variety of spending issues, than that's not at all what the public intended," Carona said.

Carona said he's tired of hearing about cities 'putting up cameras all over the place' just to shake down motorists." This way, you'll see those cameras installed only where they are needed, as a meas of public safety, and not as a revenue generator for these municipalities which, frankly, are hanging these red light cameras as quickly as they can get them installed," he said.

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