Mayor worries about budget hole if traffic camera bill passes - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Mayor worries about budget hole if traffic camera bill passes

One of the traffic cameras that sits along busy Gordon Drive, near S. Fairmount. One of the traffic cameras that sits along busy Gordon Drive, near S. Fairmount.

State Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls, Iowa is backing a bill that would take away one of the cameras' benefits, the money.

Rogers would rather give those profits to the state to help rebuild roads.

In Des Moines, where Rogers works in the Iowa House, speed and red light cameras have generated more than $3 million in fines.

"I really don't want our police department to be focused on fundraising. I mean it seems like that's what they're becoming fundraisers for their budgets. Do we really want that?" Rep. Walt Rogers, (R) Cedar Falls asked.

Rogers doesn't want that.

His bill has already passed out of a house subcommittee, but now faces an uphill battle in the full House and Senate.

Sioux City's had red light cameras since 2009.

And, since then, city leaders have built the revenue they generate into the city's budget.

If the money goes away Sioux City could stand to lose millions if a bill passes the Iowa House.

"It would be significant if they're talking speed cameras and red light cameras themselves, you're looking at $2 million a year plus," Bob Scott, Sioux City Mayor said.

The bill proposes to take the money generated by traffic cameras away from cites and counties, and redirect it to the state's road fund. This comes as city leaders finalize their budget, which relies on revenue from those cameras.

"Some of the funding was going to go into the repair of the police station, some of the funding was going to go to actual operations of the police department, we've been trying to use it for public safety. Quite frankly the city doesn't have the money to address it at this point in time, so it'll be a significant tax increase," Scott said.

That's if the bill passes. Meanwhile, Police Captain Mel Williams, who spearheaded the effort to bring traffic cameras Sioux City, said state lawmakers are overlooking the main issue, safety, not revenue.

He said before the speed cameras went up along I-29 near downtown, a survey showed that 38 percent of the cars were driving 11 miles an hour over the speed limit, or faster. Over the last 12 months police issued tickets to less than 1 percent of drivers going through the area.

Williams also said, even with fine money included in this year's budget, city departments are still expected to make cuts, something he thinks the state needs to consider.

"Instead of the state looking to take those funds, the state should be applauding the city's efforts to work towards getting property taxes as low as we can, so that we can attract more businesses and citizens to live in our state," Capt. Williams said.

Mayor Bob Scott said, if the law does pass, the city would have to discuss whether it would continue to use traffic cameras.

He said the city is allowed to break its contract with RedFlex, the traffic camera company, in the event that state law changes.

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