Is a new red light camera coming to Wauconda?
Citing safety concerns, Wauconda officials are considering reinstalling a red-light camera at Bonner Road and Route 12.
A camera kept watch there from November 2009 through September 2011. It was yanked because of a road construction project and never was replaced.
But in the time since the camera was removed from that intersection, accidents there have increased 36 percent, according to a village memo.
Eleven accidents occurred at the intersection in 2011, the final year the camera was in place, according to Illinois Department of Transportation data included in the memo. The following year, the number of crashes there jumped to 21, the memo said. The total dropped to six in 2013 but rose to 15 in 2014, according to the memo.
"This is by far our most dangerous intersection in town," Police Chief David Wermes said. "To some, this may be an unpopular decision, but safety outweighs popularity."
Critics often complain red-light cameras simply are cash streams for towns. But Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said the fines generated by a new camera at the intersection would be "relatively insignificant."
Maxeiner estimated the village's take could be $40,000 annually, a sum that's less than one percent of the village's general fund budget.
Two red light cameras already are active in Wauconda. One is on Route 176 at Main Street, and the other is on Route 176 at the ramp that leads to southbound Route 12.
Officials insisted Wauconda's police officers send tickets to only about 25 percent of the scofflaws caught by the town's cameras.
"Our officers show great discretion when it comes to approving those violations," Wermes said.
The proposal will be discussed when the board meets at 7 p.m. July 5 at village hall, 101 N. Main St.
A vote planned for this past Monday's board meeting was postponed because Trustee Ken Arnswald and Mayor Frank Bart were absent.
"We want to get everyone's opinion," Trustee Lincoln Knight said.
Trustees also wanted more information about the effectiveness of red light cameras.
Knight said he understands why some municipal and police leaders favor red light cameras. But he said he also sees "the other side of the coin."
The issue arose in Wauconda the same month Deer Park officials voted to shut down two red light cameras in their town. Both were near the Deer Park Town Center mall.
Deer Park officials called the data about traffic accidents at the two intersections inconclusive.