Riverdale Park Sees Major Drop in Speed Camera Revenue
The town has taken in about $1 million less than at the same time last year.
Revenue from speed cameras has dipped 68 percent in Riverdale Park since this time last year, leading town officials to believe drivers are heeding posted speed limits in the town's four enforcement areas.
The number of $40 tickets issued to speeding drivers has declined since then, according to Ward 2 Councilman Alan Thompson, meaning the town will likely receive about $250,000 less than projected.
“The flow of traffic is just slower now,” said Thompson, who chairs the Riverdale Park Town Council’s finance committee. “That’s a public safety victory, but it does have an effect on our budget.”
In the previous fiscal year, citations issued to speeders in Riverdale Park netted more than $1.7 million, according to Town Administrator Sara Imhulse.
As of March 31, Riverdale Park had received more than $453,000 in fines from the cameras, compared to the more than $1.4 million generated this time last year. If the trend continues, Thompson said the year’s total would amount to about $601,000.
Riverdale Park officials didn’t expect speeding to diminish as dramatically as it has and thought the cameras would at least garner the $850,000 the state allows towns to keep, Thompson said.
But Thompson added that he’s glad more drivers are easing off the pedal and believes Riverdale Park will be able to make up the deficit without resorting to budget cuts. The town is ahead on real estate and personal property taxes, he noted, and the police and public works departments will be under their budget partly due to vacant salaried positions.
Ward 3 Councilman David Lingua said it’s okay that the cameras probably won't make as much money for Riverdale Park this year, because that was never the town’s intention.
“We’re not in the business of making money off of speed cameras — that’s not the purpose of them,” said Lingua, who also chairs the town’s public safety committee. “The purpose of them is to encourage drivers to obey the speed limit, and especially in a school zone.”
One small factor in the decrease could be the absence of a camera at Good Luck Road site, Thompson said. Vendor Optotraffic took down the camera to replace it in October.
Optotraffic hopes to install a new one by the end of this month, said James Murphy, who is the Riverdale Park Police Department's patrol officer in charge of supervising the speed cameras.
But Murphy said the main reason why revenue is down is simple: the cameras are doing their job.
“That’s what they’re supposed to do is slow people down,” he said.