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Illinois Village Residents Vote Down Red Light Camera, Gas Tax
More than two-thirds of Merrionette Park, Illinois voters rejected a plan to install a red light camera.

Merrionette Park, Illinois
Voters in Merrionette Park, Illinois on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected the idea of using red light cameras. By a 69 percent margin, residents for a second time rejected the town board's proposal to join suburban neighbors like Crestwood in the use of automated ticketing machines. Village leaders decided to put the question to residents at a board meeting last July.

"Because we are a small village, our village officials can get the opinions of our residents directly since we see each other almost every day," Mayor Dennis Magee explained in the village newsletter. "But, the best way to get everyone's opinion on an important issue is to ask directly through a referendum placed at the end of the ballot on Election Day."

With a budget of $3.2 million, the village may have been able to retire its $175,512 debt obligation with the significant profit promised to it by an out-of-state or foreign red light camera contractor. Other Chicago suburbs like Forest Park have been able to generate $550,000 in revenue from a single intersection.

Merrionette Park's 1100 registered voters were asked particularly whether the cameras should be installed at the intersection of West 119th Street and South Kedzie Avenue, just down the street from the police department and next to a cemetery. Residents were just as opposed to the idea two years ago when the same ballot question received a "no" vote of 86 percent in April 2015. Residents were equally firm on Tuesday in opposing plans calling for higher taxes on motorists.

"Shall the Village of Merrionette Park use taxpayer dollars to request that the state allow an additional gasoline tax for non-home rule communities?" the ballot asked.

On the gas tax question, 76 percent of voters registered their opposition. The sentiment echoes one of the earliest votes against automated ticketing. Nearly 25 years ago, residents of Batavia rejected the use of photo enforcement by a 63 percent margin. Since then, cities in Arizona, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, and Washington have turned away red light cameras and speed cameras at the ballot box (view list).

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