6/12/2007Arizona: $366,000 Red Light Camera Billing Error
Claims of photo ticketing losses turn out to be photo radar profit in Mesa, Arizona.
Claims by the city of Mesa, Arizona that its red light camera and speed camera program has been losing money have proven untrue. Last month the city claimed it was losing $90,000 a month paying for its photo ticketing program. Today, the East Valley Tribune reported that because of a paperwork error, Mesa had been billed twice each month for the leased camera equipment. Consequently, the city overpaid private vendor ATS $122,000 a month for running photo enforcement operations. The company will refund the money.
Mesa has struggled with earning a significant profit from its program since November 2000 when the city increased the duration of the yellow warning signals at left-turn intersections from 3.0 to 4.0 seconds -- in violation of a Lockheed Martin IMS contract stipulation that mandated no timing improvements be made. As a result, red light violations dropped 72 percent at those intersections and never returned. The cameras lost significant amounts of money.
In February 2006, Mesa switched to its current vendor ATS and lost additional money as start-up problems kept the ticketing systems offline for months. Photo radar vans were idle until June 2006 and red light cameras waited until July for power connections. As a result, the city adopted an aggressive effort to shore up lost revenue by relocating cameras to high profit locations and cutting the speed that triggers a citation from its roving photo radar vans 11 MPH over the speed limit to just 5 MPH. Mesa's thirty red light cameras and fleet of photo radar became fully operational in March 2007.