Bill Would Send All Red-Light Camera Money to Austin

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A bill pending in the Texas Legislature would send all of the money the cameras bring in to the state.

    North Texas mayors say they are worried about a legislative proposal to take all the money cities raise with red-light cameras.

    House Bill 1792, which is sponsored by Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, would send 100 percent of red-light camera money to the state for hospital trauma centers.

    A previous state law took 50 percent of the money for trauma centers.

    "It's very difficult for the city to continue to loose its revenue to the state so the state can balance the budget and then leave the city without city sources," Dallas Interim Mayo Dwaine Caraway said.

    Cities Fight Red-Light Camera Money Grab Attempt

    [DFW] Cities Fight Red-Light Camera Money Grab Attempt
    A bill pending in the Texas Legislature would send all of the money the cameras bring in to the state.

    Caraway and the mayors of Fort Worth and Arlington wrote a joint letter to the governor and lieutenant governor opposing bills that take city money.

    Red-light cameras are not the cash cow they were when they first started appearing in Texas cities about five years ago.

    A 2007 Dallas City Council briefing forecast about $10 million in net revenue from 100 cameras that were to be in operation by 2008.

    The city's share was to be about $5 million after the money was split with the state.

    Dallas forecasts that it will lose $1.6 million if HB 1792 is enacted. While the figure is much lower than it would have been years ago, Caraway said it is money the city needs.

    "We have pledged our dollars to support our services and other commitments that the city has, and it puts us in a difficult position when the state takes our pledge away from us," he said.

    Some studies have questioned the safety claims of camera supporters, but Dallas records show a 61 percent decline since 2007 in red-light related crashes at intersections with the cameras.

    However, Dallas operates 66 red-light cameras instead of 100 and rotates some of them to various locations because of declining citations at existing sites.

    The camera at Marsailes Avenue and R.L. Thornton Freeway in Dallas once had a high citation count in city records but appeared to be shut down Friday.

    Several drivers at a Chevron station on the corner said the Austin should not take all of the revenue from red-light cameras.

    "I think the city should keep the money because it's a city thing, you know?" driver Edwin Fuller said. "I don’t really buy that the state has no money. They take our money for everything else."

    Driver Edward Rowell agreed.

    "It should stay in the town where the violation happened," he said.

    Another bill filed in both the Texas House and Senate would remove city authority to install red-light cameras.

    With a two-thirds margin, Houston voters decided last year to remove all 64 cameras there.

    Frisco turned its red-light cameras off about two years ago because officials there said the money from citations no longer covered the cost of operating the cameras. But the cameras were reactivated at several high traffic Frisco intersections last month.