Saturday, Jun 24, 2017
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$630,000 IN 4 MONTHS

Toledo cashing in on speed cameras

Revenue higher than expected

Toledo's investment into controversial hand-held, speed-detection cameras is paying off for the budget-beleaguered city, officials said Thursday.

In four months, the city collected nearly $630,000 from fines levied on speeders who were captured on video by Toledo police officers. That’s 78.5 percent of the $800,000 the Hicks-Hudson administration said it would collect in 12 months.

At the current pace, the city would collect nearly $1.9 million — more than double the budgeted revenue for 2016.

Councilman Theresa Gabriel was among the nearly 6,300 people who paid one of those tickets between March 1 and June 30.

“I had no idea those cameras would bring in that kind of money,” said Ms. Gabriel, chairman of council's public safety and criminal justice reform committee.

“They got $120 of my money because I got one,” she said. “I was speeding, I got a ticket, and I paid it.”

The administration of Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson could not immediately provide the number of people who received those tickets so far and the number of those who have not paid their fines.

Officers used the speed-detection cameras to issue tickets to 2,325 drivers during March, the first month of the program, Toledo police spokesman Lt. Joe Heffernan said.

Ms. Gabriel was caught with a heavy foot driving along the 4200 block of Monroe Street.

Police officers in marked cars and on motorcycles have been positioned with the devices regularly in school zones and under bridges along I-475.

Police listed several locations where officers are often deployed with the devices, which includes the street where Ms. Gabriel was caught.

“I am sure the administration is looking at this as a good thing and I am sure the taxpayers are looking at it as if they are victims, but if you are speeding, you are speeding,” she said.

The locations are St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School, 4201 Heatherdowns Blvd.; St. Joan of Arc School, 5950 Heatherdowns Blvd.; Keyser Elementary School, 3900 Hill Ave.; Rosa Parks Elementary School, 3350 Cherry St.; I-75 at Collingwood Boulevard, Berdan Avenue, and the Ottawa River; I-475 at ProMedica Parkway and Douglas Road; Monroe Street from the 3300 block to the 4400 block, and the 3300 block of North Detroit Avenue.

Camera citations, assessed as civil penalties, cost violators $120. The city receives $90.25 of that.

Under an agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems — the Arizona firm that also maintains Toledo’s stationary-camera system and keeps a percentage of the fines — the city is paid $90.25 monthly for the first 50 paid tickets and $100 for every ticket after that from each device.

Toledo police have declined officially to reveal how fast a vehicle must be traveling before a citation is issued. 

But a civilian hearing officer in April told a room full of people contesting camera-generated tickets that speed cameras are set to record a citation at 11 miles per hour over the limit.

Toledo police have four of the hand-held devices.

Councilman Rob Ludeman lauded police Thursday for their prowess with the cameras.

“My wish is those numbers would go down so people are slowing down,” Mr. Ludeman said. “I congratulate the police department for being aggressive. I’ve never wanted it to be a revenue-generator, but it will make our streets safe.”

City Finance Director George Sarantou told council’s finance committee Thursday about the influx of cash from the hand-held cameras and also said that the city’s stationary speed and red light cameras were over budget through June 30.

The city collected $999,558 from those 44 stationary cameras mounted at 28 sites during the first six months of 2016. That is roughly 66.6 percent of the $1.5 million expected for the year, according to the city’s general fund budget.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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