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State Government News

Traffic Camera Ban Could Cost Local Governents More Than Ticket Revenues

Matthias Ripp via flickr creative commons

If state lawmakers go through with a plan to ban traffic cameras, local governments across Iowa could face budget cuts. The changes could be a double whammy for Sioux City.

Iowa’s traffic cameras automatically ticket drivers for speeding and running red lights. According to a state analysis, the fines net Sioux City $1.4 million last year. The city generally reinvests the revenue in public safety, to purchase things like new equipment for the fire department and software updates for the police force. If state lawmakers ban the cameras, the city would have to come up with a budgeting fix: find another revenue stream, or cut other projects. But city finance director Donna Forker says the main issue would be monitoring speeders.

“It’s actually on the enforcement side that we would have the problem," Forker said. "How do you keep people safe? Not having those cameras will make a big difference.”

Forker says the cameras show there is a need for monitoring in the area. 

"We're about $1.4 million worth of revenue. That's on a hundred dollar ticket. That's an awful lot of speeders," Forker said. "And our system is set up, it's not from one mile or five miles, it's more than ten miles an hour [over] until you get a ticket."

Forker says Sioux City would consider beefing up the local law enforcement presence to make up for the lack of cameras.

"We would start looking at increasing our patrol staff for traffic enforcement along the interstate because currently we don't have the manpower to have someone situated out there 24 hours a day. And the cameras have shown to us that there is a lot of speed on that stretch of interstate," sher said.

Local governments that use the cameras would lose a combined total of $12 million dollars in fines. Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Sioux City and Davenport would take the biggest hits, but Council Bluffs, Fort Dodge and Windsor Heights would also lose out on ticket revenue.

The Iowa Senate approved the plan last month. The issue is now up to the House.