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updated: 3/16/2012 1:14 PM

Gurnee remains bullish on red-light cameras despite lower ticket revenue

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  • Kevin Woodside

      Kevin Woodside

  • Kristina Kovarik

      Kristina Kovarik

  • Video: Driver going 80 mph on camera

  • Video: Gurnee chief on red light cams

 
 

Gurnee's red-light camera revenue is declining, which officials say shows the devices are making intersections safer and should remain.

In 2010, the village netted about $1 million from vehicle owners who received citations through activation of the cameras at four intersections.

But photo-enforcement fine revenue dropped to $564,000 after expenses in 2011 and is projected to decline to roughly $500,000 this year and in 2013, according to a presentation by Gurnee Police Chief Kevin Woodside at a recent village board nonvoting committee session.

Gurnee's reduced red-light camera haul is addressed in the village's proposed 2012-13 budget that starts May 1.

"As the cameras become more prevalent in the Chicagoland area, driver behavior continues to change, resulting in fewer violations," the budget document states.

Woodside said integrity, transparency and customer service have been hallmarks of Gurnee's red-light camera program since it started in July 2009. He said some communities are not as willing as Gurnee to share crash data with the public to justify the cameras or respond to questions or concerns from drivers who received a citation.

"The integrity of this program from the very beginning is critically important," Woodside said. "It was our belief from the beginning that if we didn't approach this program with integrity that it would not get public support. It would not have the confidence of the public and wouldn't survive."

Three of Gurnee's red-light camera intersections are where Route 132 meets Route 21, Dilleys Road and Hunt Club Road. The fourth device is at Route 41 and Delany Road.

Statistics incorporated into the police section of the tentative budget show there were 130 total crashes during six months of the photo-enforced intersections in 2009. There were 160 crashes in 2010 and 110 last year.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik said it's easy to notice drivers being more cautious at any of the intersections with the red-light cameras.

"It's good that the revenue is dropping," Kovarik said.

Roughly 6,300 citations have resulted from the 13,000 times Gurnee's red-light cameras have been tripped in nearly three years. Redflex employees and village police officers deemed more than half of the potential violations not worthy of a ticket.

Gurnee entered a three-year contract for the devices with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. in July 2009 and negotiations are occurring for a new deal, Kovarik said. Part of the village's program cost includes a $38,000 monthly fee to Redflex.

Red-light camera citations carry a $100 fine, but are not considered moving violations. Vehicle owners, not drivers, are ticketed.

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