Illinois Comptroller Is Opting The State Out Of Collecting Red Light Camera Fees
from the full-stop dept
We’ve discussed red light cameras many times in the past, most often to point out how they really aren’t great at providing any benefit in vehicle safety, but are quite good at filling up the coffers of local governments on the backs of motorists. Given that these are essentially profit centers run by governments that aren’t well suited to maximizing profits, the contracts for these red light cameras are typically outsourced to private interests. And if that seems like a recipe for rampant corruption… well… yeah. Everyone from judges to my beloved home city of Chicago has found themselves being investigated, and sometimes charged, with wild corruption as part of these red light camera contracts. Contracts that, again, don’t make anyone any safer.
It’s bad enough that the Illinois State Comptroller has decided to opt out of its duties to collect on red light camera fees entirely.
Since 2012, the Illinois Comptroller’s office has served as a sort of collection agency for communities that are trying to get motorists to pay their red-light tickets. The comptroller’s tool: Deducting the amount owed in outstanding tickets from state-income tax refunds due to the violators — with about $11 million collected this way on behalf of 60 Chicago suburbs in 2019 alone — and forwarding most of the take to the towns while keeping a small cut.
But with federal investigators looking into red-light contractor SafeSpeed over allegations of pay-to-play — amid revelations about politically connected sales representatives for the company landing juicy commissions — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said her agency will no longer perform this function.
To be honest, it’s more than a little sad that it takes clownish corruption to get the wheels of state government to stop bilking its own citizens with red light cameras, but at least it’s happening. Mendoza wasn’t done, however. She has also publicly stated that red light cameras are very much about revenue rather than safety, and went on to recommend to all of the Chicago suburbs that they all simply cease their red light camera programs.
“They should revisit their programs entirely,” Mendoza said. “I don’t think it’s good public policy and I think it’s time it ends.”
Yes, they should. We’ve been calling for this for years. Having traffic safety procedures that don’t have anything to do with safety and are instead cynical methods for putting money in public coffers seems like the kind of thing we shouldn’t do.