State camera law costing county $5 million
Maryland statute ups threshold, limits when cameras can operate
by Erin Cunningham | Staff Writer
The state's state speed camera law, more restrictive than Montgomery County's own law, is costing the county $5 million in the current fiscal year, and officials are still calculating what future losses will be.
The county had been expecting $13 million in speed camera revenue in fiscal 2010 to be distributed to the county police department ($8.6 million), Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service ($2.9 million) and pedestrian safety ($1.5 million).
Legislative analysts told a County Council committee Thursday that the lost revenue will mean Executive Isiah Leggett (D) will have to adjust this year's budget. Leggett already had planned to propose about $30 million in cuts to the fiscal 2010 budget, his spokesman Patrick Lacefield said.
Montgomery has 119 sites designated for speed cameras. Of those locations, 60 have fixed permanent cameras, and the other 59 are occasionally monitored by six vans equipped with speed cameras. Tickets are $40, but additional fees are assessed for late payments.
In the past, speeding tickets have been issued to those driving 11 mph or more over the speed limit. However, a change in state law enacted Oct. 1 has pushed the threshold to 12 mph.
The new state law also requires the cameras to be shut off after 8 p.m. in school zones and on weekends.
These changes will mean less revenue for the county, which was on track to bring in $62.9 million since the program began by the end of fiscal 2010.
Aron Trombka, with the county's Office of Legislative Oversight, said analysts believe these changes will mean 40 percent decrease in citations issued — resulting in a $5 million loss to the fiscal 2010 budget in addition to future losses.
During Thursday's meeting of the council's Public Safety Committee, Council President Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said he disagrees with those changes to state law.
"There are school events going on beyond (8 p.m.) and often on the weekends," said Andrews, who chairs that committee.