A red light camera’s flash means a vendor gets cash -- Gazette.Net


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Citations from red light cameras bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Rockville, but maybe not as much as the numbers initially suggest.

A spike in tickets from red light cameras during the last half of 2012 generated $803,000 in revenue for the city. Out of that figure, Rockville still has to pay the company that provides and maintains the red light camera equipment, however.

“A big chunk of that (revenue) is going to go to the vendor,” said Stacey Webster, Rockville’s budget and finance manager.

ACS State and Local Solutions Inc., a division of Xerox Corp., provides equipment and support services for the city’s red light and speed camera programs. Each citation issued by a red light camera in Rockville comes with a $75 fine. Of that, ACS gets $29.34 and the city gets $45.66 — about a 39-61 percent split, Webster said.

So, of the $803,000 from red light cameras so far this fiscal year, the city takes home slightly less than $490,000 after it pays the vendor.

Montgomery County has a similar contract with ACS. ACS has been providing speed camera equipment and services for Rockville since 2007, according to mayor and council documents.

Before last year, Rockville had a contract with LaserCraft Inc. to provide support for the program. In fiscal 2011, costs for LaserCraft’s services came to $42.36 per paid citation, according to mayor and council documents.

Three full-time city employees and one part-time employee work in the red light camera program.

City financial staff have estimated that red light cameras will bring in about $1.9 million this fiscal year, but that number is expected to decrease as drivers change their behavior at intersections with cameras.

In August 2012, the first month the new ACS-provided cameras were up, police issued more than 5,500 tickets, according to Rockville City Police documents. That number decreased each month last year to 1,700 citations in December.

Rockville City Police Maj. Michael England said the city’s photo enforcement programs do generate revenue for public safety initiatives, such as improved sidewalks and pedestrian safety. Ultimately, however, the goal is to get people to obey traffic laws.

“Ideally, it would be great if we weren’t issuing any citations,” he said. “That’s the intent — to reduce the number of red light runners.”

ewaibel@gazette.net