Saturday, October 24, 2009

Prince George's County asks Revenue Authority to Select Camera Sites

Prince George's County is moving ahead with plans to deploy speed cameras by asking the County Revenue Authority to select 50 speed camera sites. Yes you read that correctly. This Freudian slip caused certain vocal speed camera supporters to have a tizzy fit. I don't understand the problem, at least they're being honest about it.

According to the Gazette article Prince George's will start with a fleet of 10 vans outfitted with cameras to be posted at potential sites, and then a private company will install fixed cameras at a rate of five locations every three months. (and, if they follow the same type of contract arrangement as Montgomery County and Baltimore, that company will likely receive a cut of every ticket).

Prince George's county officials also expressed discontent over restrictions in the law (that the cameras are restricted to within 1/2 mile of schools and in freeway work zones without workers):
"I think we should, maybe next session, be asking the state to modify it," said Councilman Thomas Dernoga (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel, adding that the council should make speed camera expansion a priority with the General Assembly.
Prince George's County had originally asked the council for speed cameras on 'Primary Highways' with lower ticket thresholds, and higher fines[see 2009 bill, 2008 bill]. Frederick City officials have expressed similar wishes. Montgomery County has also recently whined that some of the restrictions in the law (part of the compromise used to sell the idea of statewide cameras and speed cameras on 55 and 65mph freeway workzones-without-workers) would cost them money. Montgomery County had written $13million into their FY10 budget in fines for violations which had not yet been committed (apparently once the county plans on a certain number of violations taking place, it is already their money and they are entitled to have those violations occur and receive the revenue from them), and the county had doubled their number of cameras to reach this quota. No, the the government will not rest on its laurels and accept any restrictions on what it can do. In fact they don't intend to stop until they can bill you for every mile you drive.

Addendum 0n 11/10/2009
Prince George's County has been trying to convince the public that the 'Revenue' authority is not a money collection organization by stating "the Revenue Authority, despite its name, is not a tax collection agency but the operator of the county's parking facilities. " While that is in fact true, the Revenue Authority's Mission statement on its own website makes it clear that this is a deception, and that it's primary function is in fact revenue collection, and that it does not have responsibility for public safety related functions:
The Revenue Authority is dedicated to promoting the public interest of Prince George's County by:
  • Facilitating economic development and employment growth
  • Owning, operating and maintaining revenue-producing facilities
  • Financing County capital improvement projects
  • Managing a self-supporting public parking program"