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Where to Spend Speed Camera Revenues?

A treasure trove?

In last night’s session, the Mayor and Council just discussed the issue of spending speed camera revenues.

Since the cameras were first installed in the local school zone areas, steady amount of revenues started to flow. It all appeared that the City found a “treasure trove” in these cameras..

Back in April, the council seemed to struggle on how to spend this newly found cash, totaling $350,000. There was also a requirement to spend this money within a State imposed deadline.

At the worksessions on August 9 and September 6, straw votes were taken on the various public safety requests from UMDPS, PGCPD, Council members and staff.

At the September 6 work session, the Council tentatively approved a list of projects to fund with the FY 2011 speed camera funds.
• 3 closed-circuit/license-plate reader cameras
• one mobile CCTV/LPR camera, depending on the availability of a mobile cameras.
• $15,000 each to the three volunteer fire departments that provide primary service to areas of College Park for capital equipment
• a replacement guard rail on Narragansett Parkway
• four new streetlight installations, and crosswalks with flashing lights on Rhode Island Ave.(based on the County’s conducting a traffic study to determine if it believes that improved crosswalks are appropriate on Rhode Island Ave.)

See details of these projects here on page 77.

For short term, spending like these makes sense. For example, a CCTV / LPR at the four corners (RI / Edgewood) would be a good choice. The area is not only the major entry point to our neighborhood, but also an area where we have seen quite a few commercial robberies. For example 7/11 was hit by armed robberies at least 4 times in the past few months. I believe Mundo Latino store was also hit twice in the past.

However for future, we may want to think of a long term strategy of using this camera revenue to improve public safety in general. Per State’s guidelines, funds must be committed to “public safety” projects.

One idea is to put the money to a long term investment fund to support a future city police force.  This should in part address the concern of a tax hike to maintain such a force, something I’d assume a very few residents would support.

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2 Comments to “Where to Spend Speed Camera Revenues?”

  1. By Bill Smith, November 2, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    The license-plate reader cameras are to be used to create a database of cars/trucks that went thru a location? This data would be stored for later use… like in a divorce case? This is really big brother at work?

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, November 2, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    Bill, Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your concerns on the privacy issue, however, we’re told that the captured data will only be used when a crime happens and strictly to find leads into those crimes.