In just a year, cameras capturing speeders near two Spokane elementary schools have generated almost the same amount of fines as the 15 red-light cameras citywide, according to the Spokesman-Review. Now Spokane’s City Council is thinking about adding more.
In 2016, fines paid by speeders captured on camera near Longfellow and Finch elementary schools totaled $1.2 million. In comparison, $1.6 million was collected from the red light cameras at ten intersections across the city.
Money raised by all cameras will be used for construction projects aimed at slowing traffic and protecting pedestrians, including students walking to school. Money from red light tickets has been earmarked for this purpose since the cameras were installed in 2008, but the City Council will soon have to come up with a permanent plan for how to use money from the school-zone lights.
School-zone fines are larger than red light fines, starting at $214 and going up to $400. Fines from red-light cameras are usually around $48.
The two school-zone cameras brought in larger-than-expected fine dollars last year, leading the City Council to establish an impermanent formula for spending in December. By resolution, the money will go to construction of pedestrian safety and traffic slowing measures near schools, including sidewalk improvements near Sacajawea Middle School and Browne Elementary, intersection improvements at Shadle Park High School and Sheridan Elementary, and speed signs near Franklin Elementary.
The council is also using the money to hire a municipal court commissioner to adjudicate cases from the automated camera system and pay the salaries of four Spokane Police Department neighborhood resource officers. The issue now is that the city needs to find ways of paying the officers through another source after the two-year resolution for 2017 and 2018 ends.
The city also is exploring additional school-zone cameras at Stevens and Lincoln Heights elementary schools.