11/4/2008Chicago Motorist Taxes Top Half a Billion
Chicago, Illinois uses red light cameras and increased taxes to balance the city budget.
Chicago, Illinois Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) is counting on a host of new fees and taxes on drivers to balance the city's 2009 budget. For example, a new contract took effect on Saturday authorizing private vendor Redflex to more than double the number of red light camera equipped intersections in Chicago to 290. The first phase of the program had already mailed 1.1 million tickets worth $110 million with just 136 cameras, thanks to contract provisions that ensure a steady stream of revenue.
"The Office of Emergency Management and Communications has developed and executed the industry's most stringent performance metrics and key performance indicators," the new contract states. "(These) include citation issuance minimum yields to equal 85 percent or greater and system uptime to equal 95 percent or greater.... At a minimum, installed systems must maintain a minimum 85 percent prosecution rate."
So far, the prosecution rate has been 94 percent. Daley rewarded Redflex by approving a no-bid contract extension increasing the Australian company's five-year share of the revenue from $13,449,000 to $32,109,090. Redflex also agreed to allow the city to keep an extra $1,016,400 each year from reduced maintenance charges and to use union labor from a number of subcontracting firms favored by Daley's administration.
Thanks in part to the new cameras, total revenue from all fines and tickets is expected to jump 16.6 percent to $293.5 million. The remainder of the increase will come from encouraging meter maids to issue more parking tickets and seizing more automobiles.
"The majority of this increase is related to the expansion and enhancement of current enforcement programs," the 2009 budget explained. "The 2009 budget also projects additional revenue from enhanced collection of fines related to vehicle impoundment."
Higher taxes on parking (more info) will boost transportation tax revenue to $161.6 million. Combined with a vehicle registration sticker tax of $105.9 million and parking lot fees of $5.9 million, Chicago expects to earn $566.9 million from drivers in 2009.
A copy of the red light camera contract is available in a 3mb PDF file at the source link below.