Saturday, January 09, 2010
City Doesn't See Red Light Cash
FOR THE RECORD: This story incorrectly stated that the city of Albuquerque cannot keep any profit from the red light camera program. That was true for most of fiscal 2009 — the year discussed in the story — but the Legislature later changed the rules. Albuquerque and the state now share a portion of the revenue.
Journal Staff Report
Albuquerque's red light cameras raked in the cash last year, but they aren't making City Hall any richer.
The traffic cameras generated about $8.6 million in revenue in fiscal 2009, the most recently completed budget year. That far exceeded the city's expectations.
Redflex, the Arizona company that administers the program, received about $4.3 million. The state also received about $4.3 million, as required by the Legislature. The city is not allowed to keep any profit from the program under state rules.
The future of red light cameras in Albuquerque is still unclear. Mayor Richard Berry granted Redflex a four-month contract extension that runs through this spring.
In the meantime, the city is asking the University of New Mexico's Institute for Social Research to study whether Albuquerque's streets have become safer in the five-plus years since cameras began snapping pictures of speeders and red light runners.
That's the key to the program's future, according to the mayor's office.
The revenue "is something the study will look at, but the mayor has always said the red light camera program has to be about public safety," said T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque's public safety spokesman.
The cameras are installed at 20 intersections. They snap photos of speeders and red light runners, and citations are mailed after police review the evidence.