Exclusive: Proposal would withhold money from cities using automated traffic cameras

Automated Traffic Cameras Under Fire Again (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)- The city of Dayton's traffic cameras have not started issuing real tickets yet and there is already a challenge to the program.

For every dollar in ticket fines the city of Dayton brings in through its traffic cameras, it could lose an equal amount from the state.

That's if a bill proposed by Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) gets the okay from the legislature.

"What we are trying to do is take the profit out of policing for profit which is what many of us believe this is," Rep. Seitz said.

Miamisburg Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) heard about the bill and said he'd like to be a co-sponsor.

"They shouldn't make money. Citizens shouldn't be double-taxed. If they're only doing it for safety purposes, then let's only do it for safety purposes," Rep. Antani said.

There are three components to the proposal.

The first would force cities to do away with the administrative hearings currently in place for the civil citations.

Tickets would be forced to go through municipal courts.

Rep. Seitz says that will give people who receive a ticket all the protections afforded other court issues.

Secondly, for every dollar in fines received, the state would take away that amount from the money it gives cities through the local government fund.

"We're saying that if you choose to raise your revenue through red light and speed cameras, be my guest. We are simply saying your state revenue will be reduced dollar-for-dollar," Rep. Seitz said.

Lastly, Rep. Seitz says the money withheld from cities using the cameras would be given to the Ohio Department of Transportation for safety upgrades on roadways.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley couldn't believe it when she heard about the new proposal.

"This has been dealt with by the Ohio Supreme Court. We won. They have sour grapes, particularly Rep. Seitz. All the things he's putting in this bill have either had an injunction or answered by the Ohio Supreme Court and he's upset that he lost," Mayor Whaley said.

Mayor Whaley says the city has proof the cameras work to cut down on violations and traffic crashes.

"I've gotten a ticket from Dayton cameras and I've paid those tickets and they make me drive more safe. They make me change my behavior and that's what policing is supposed to be about," Mayor Whaley said.

Since cameras were removed from Dayton's streets, city leaders say there has been a 40% increase in crashes.

Last year, there were 4,000 crashes on Dayton's roads, 1,000 people were injured and 31 people died.

"The representatives want to take our money away but they want us to use new technology and here we are using technology and they don't like it," Mayor Whaley said.

Dayton's cameras begin issuing actual tickets on November 1st.

The cameras will be set up in the following locations:

West Third Street at James H. McGee Boulevard (three red light cameras)

North Gettysburg Avenue at Fairbanks Avenue (two speed cameras)

North Main Street at Siebenthaler Avenue (one speed camera)

South Keowee Street between East Third Street and East Fourth Street (two speed cameras)

South Smithville Road at Linden Avenue (two red light cameras)

Rep. Seitz said the civil penalties issued from the tickets aren’t enough to get dangerous drivers on the road.

“Under these civil citations, you can accumulate a hundred of them but it never goes on your record. So, I don’t think these civil citations do much to get dangerous drivers off the road," Rep. Seitz said.

Only home-rule cites can use the automated traffic cameras. Other municipalities are required to have an officer present because of a law passed in 2015.

"You can use them. You don't have to comply with our state law but guess what, we're taking the profit out of policing for profit," Rep. Seitz said.

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