Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prince George's County Executive Calls Speed Cameras "A Tax"

In a surprising reversal, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson has announced that the county will scale back its original plan to install fixed pole speed cameras at 50 sites and instead use a fleet of mobile cameras.

"It seems to me like it's more a revenue-raising issue than public safety, and it's going to take too many dollars out of the hands of our citizens" Johnson said describing the fixed-pole speed camera plan.

"It's disguised as a fee and a fine, but it's a tax," WTOP news quoted Jack Johnson.

The county will still proceed to issue citations using a more modest number of mobile camera vans which can be easily moved between many sites. These would have locations which are less well known to local drivers and the cameras would be less conspicuous. Prince George's could also still decide to add fixed pole cameras at a later time: when Montgomery County began their program they started with a modest number of fixed pole cameras the first year along with a number of mobile sites, which has since ballooned to over 60 fixed pole locations and dozens of mobile camera locations.

The decision will not affect the many towns in the county that have started their own independent speed camera programs, using mostly mobile cameras. These towns include Bowie, New Carrollton, Berwynn Heights, District Heights, Capitol Heights, Cheverly, Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Riverdale Park, and Glenarden. Most if not all of them are creating new school zones or extending existing zones specifically for the purpose of adding speed cameras: those locations were never previously considered school zones even though the towns have had the authority to designate and mark school zones for many years. So if you own stock in ACS or Sigma Space do not worry, there will still be no shortage of cameras and tickets going out in 2010.

Refs:
WTOP
Washington Post
Gazette
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Updated 4/30/2010
Well it looks like we missed this one: County Executive Johnson later corrected himself. What he meant to say was 'it's a tax, JUST NOT A BIG ENOUGH TAX!" The Washington Post reported that after being questioned by the County Council about his decision, he responded that his office had calculated that the planned camera deployment locations would only return 124,000 tickets in the first year, and that after expenses on the 50 cameras they would bring in only $100,000 in net revenue if 65% of ticket recipients paid without question. "Although he insisted that revenue was not the reason to go with only mobile units, Johnson said last week that he could "not justify" the 50-site plan for that small a financial return."

In other words 'We want the cameras for safety, not revenue, but ONLY IF THEY MAKE LOTS OF MONEY!!!' Read Washington Post Article.