Safety camera program to remain shelved
By: Shawn Flynn
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CHARLOTTE -- The Queen City’s safety camera program was shut down following a state Supreme Court ruling in 2006, and despite its success in reducing traffic violations, city officials say the program is not coming back.
The court ruled that 90 percent of the revenue generated by the safety camera program would have to go to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools but the city estimated that it takes approximately the same 90 percent of funds just to run the program.
Citing the expense of running the cameras, the city decided to shut it down. Since then, law enforcement officials say the number of speeders and red light violators has increased in the areas where the cameras used to be.
City leaders say they had attempted to negotiate a deal with CMS but those talks are over.
“We’ve abandoned the program since 2006,” said Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton. “Some of the signs are still up because that program worked very well from an operational perspective, but we’re not moving ahead at this point.”
Even though the safety camera era is over, the city of Charlotte still owes CMS about $4.7 million. Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Foxx is asking the city council to release those funds in hopes of saving teachers’ jobs.
“This is money that is owed to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; we should release those funds immediately,” Foxx said. "If ever there was a time for the city of Charlotte to help the school system, now is the time."
However, there is no guarantee CMS would even get the money if Mecklenburg County decides to further trim the school district's budget.
The city of Charlotte set aside $2.8 million to pay CMS and the other $1.9 million would come from reserves.
Foxx is asking the council to release those funds at Monday night's meeting.