Montgomery County expects more speed camera revenue next year

|
Photo -
Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County,Metro and Traffic

Montgomery County police are expecting a 7 percent increase from speed cameras in fiscal 2014.

According to County Executive Ike Leggett's proposed fiscal 2014 budget, police expect to bring in about $14.6 million on revenue from speed camera citations -- up from the $13.6 million projected for fiscal 2013. The budget also notes police are estimating they will actually get about $15.8 million in camera revenue this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Revenue from the county's red-light cameras is projected to remain the same.

Police expect to get about $3.6 million in fiscal 2014.

County officials estimated they issued about 330,000 tickets for 2012. That's down from the peak in camera revenues in 2009 when the county issued about 505,000 tickets for $20 million in gross revenue.

Since 2009, the county has brought in more money from camera tickets than estimated, according to county data. Police spokesman Robert Ladany said he was unsure why the revenues increased.

Earlier this year, Maryland lawmakers started exploring legislation that would put stricter regulations on speed cameras after an investigation by the Baltimore Sun revealed major inaccuracies and unwarranted ticketing of drivers by the cameras in Baltimore City.

Maryland counties and D.C. bring in millions of dollars from traffic enforcement cameras, but they are not allowed in parts of Virginia. In January the District had collected $26 million in fines for tickets.

The cameras have been criticized by state lawmakers and auditors. A recent state audit of work zone cameras found that half the violations recorded by the cameras were unusable and that there were no benchmarks for the company.

A judge recently ruled in Ohio that speed camera ordinances violated due process since defendants were not afforded an opportunity to contest the camera's maintenance or effectiveness in court. The ruling could change how tickets are challenged across the country.

Robin Ficker, a lawyer who works in Montgomery County, said he looking into a class-action lawsuit against the county over problems with its cameras. Earlier this year, Ficker successfully fought a speed camera ticket he was issued because the camera was illegally placed on the side of the road outside a school zone. Since then, the camera has been moved.

He said he's not surprised police expect more revenue in fiscal 2014, despite the police's claims that cameras are not a money-making tool.

"This just shows that all they're interested in is money," Ficker said. "They're assuming revenue that's coming in on tickets they haven't given out yet. What's going to happen if they don't get that much?"

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment