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Linden, NJ lobbies for continuation of red light camera program it needs for revenue

Local officials from across New Jersey descended on the statehouse earlier this week to encourage lawmakers to renew the state’s red light camera program.

The spectacle on Monday was touted by one of the state’s red light camera operators in an interview with NJ.com. A spokesman for American Traffic Solutions called it “an opportunity for our customers to share with their representatives the safety benefits the program has brought to their communities.”

The safety benefits are dubious, of course, but there’s another compelling reason for renewing the program—just follow the money.

Linden, NJ is one municipality that participated in the lobbying. Councilman Peter Brown explained to NJ.com why he was there.

“This is an important program to us in Linden,” he said.

No wonder he thinks it’s important. According to publicly available budget documents, the town is counting on $1,277,200.00 to come in from red light cameras in the current budget year and says the revenue is at risk.

Listing red light camera revenue under an explanatory statement for “structural budget imbalances,” the 2014 adopted budget notes that the “2014 pilot [program] may not be renewed.”

Last Friday the city used the PR service Market Wired to put out a press release, “Linden City Council Urges Continuation of Red-Light Safety Cameras.”

The City of Linden, New Jersey, is speaking out in favor of the State’s red-light safety camera program and urging legislators to continue the program beyond 2014. The council made its opinion known on Tuesday with the unanimous passage of a resolution supporting “legislation renewing the red-light camera program at the end of the current pilot program.”

“The City of Linden supports the renewal of the red light camera program in the interest of public safety, as the program has a proven record of reducing traffic accidents at selected intersections,” the resolution states.

The resolution cites traffic data to suggest red light cameras improve public safety. The same day, American Traffic Solutions issued a press release using the same service. It also cited crash data to suggest that public safety is improved because of red light cameras.

But as Watchdog Wire previously reported, the data may be suspect. Crash numbers from some towns have been incomplete or inconclusive, and critics of red light cameras note that towns self-report the data to the state. Can states be trusted to self-report results that could jeopardize revenue?

Linden is not alone in counting on red light camera revenue. Sources present at an Oct. 7 council meeting in Piscataway say the town claims to be waiting for the state’s decision before deciding to renew its contract with American Traffic Solutions.

But some municipalities have not waited, including Brick and Pohatcong. Both have decided to end their red light camera programs.

Watchdog Wire will have more on local governments’ red light camera decisions next week.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib is the Assistant Editor of Watchdog Wire. Twitter: @joshkaib

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Categories: Budget and Finance, Courts & Law, Government Transparency, Must Read, Policy, Regulation, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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