According to a recent audit of the city’s red light cameras, the projected one million dollars per year revenue is proving to be way off. Now the question is are the camera worth it, or a worse kind of dilemma will be, will the city pay for what it claimed in the first place – the cameras are for safety not cash!
Here is what the city audit reported and made public:
• Of the violation fees collected, the state gets the biggest share or roughly a whopping 53% of the 4.5 million collected to date. The vendor, ACS, gets 27% and the city got just shy of 15%.
• Of the 12 locations, cameras at seven are not paying for themselves.
• Cameras become inoperative for months without the city ever knowing that they are not working.
• Tallahassee Police Department reviewing the violations are dismissing too many. No explanation of how this was determined given in the audit report.
The audit did conclude that the Tallahassee Police Department could have signed off as many as 3565 violations costing the city in lost revenues of up to $267,375. The good news is that the audit found no occasion where the department deliberately failed to approve a violation. When question about the missed violations, the auditors stated that they think it was due to administrative errors, for whatever this means.
The bottom line is that the cameras are far from being a cash cow for the city as once believed. Of the $4.5 million in revenue received from the time the cameras began operating, the city received $692,723. However, the vendor took in $1.2 million. The city pays ACS, the vendor, $4650 a month for each of the first 12 cameras and $4475 a month for the remaining seven.
Despite the statistics as to whether the intersection crash data supports the continued use of the cameras, the cameras have changed the driving habit of this examiner. There is no more speeding up on the yellow to blow through the intersection. Now there is that gradual slowing down to a stop as soon as the yellow caution is visible. There is also better time management to get to an appointment well before the appointed time. This, it is believed, is happening here in Tallahassee and therefore; safer intersections in the city.
Perhaps the city needs to buy the cameras and operate them with city assets rather than pay out the $1.2 million to a vendor. Plus negotiate with the state for a better deal since the over 50% cut sounds a bit high and a bit greedy.