Potential Loss of Traffic Cameras Means Million Dollar Budget Ga - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Potential Loss of Traffic Cameras Means Million Dollar Budget Gap


You might call it a love-hate relationship.

A lot of people hate those red light and speed cameras that are set up across the community.
But the city loves the money they bring in.

Now that stream of revenue may be interrupted and you could end up paying for it.

There's a good chance the state is going to impose tougher restrictions on where cities can put those cameras.

And that could be an expensive change.

The last time Siouxland News reported on this story, we told you how a new Iowa Department of Transportation proposal is creating stricter guidelines for traffic camera use.

Then, officials were somewhat hopeful that somehow the cameras would still be in Sioux City.

But Wednesday, city leaders told us they're doubtful that those cameras and nearly $4 million dollars will stay in town.

Preemptively, Sioux City leaders have removed that anticipated ticket revenue for the proposed 2015 budget.
"My personal opinion is it's time we take it out of the budget and make it a one-time expenditure and not rely upon it for future revenue," said Mayor Bob Scott.
But that type of revenue loss will mean the money has to come from somewhere else.

The question Siouxland News asked is if it'll be coming from your pockets?
"If that budget were to be approved it would show a eighty three dollar increase on the typical residence. We consider that the starting point. We know that's not the ending point," explained City Manager Bob Padmore when asked how officials plan to make up for the loss.
But he also stressed for more than a decade leaders have avoided tax increases.

Mayor Bob Scott agrees and said raising your property taxes is the last option.
"I'm not going to go out and say we're going to have an eighty three dollar tax increase because I can tell you that's not going to happen. I can tell you there's not willingness on the council for that to happen," Scott said.
Regardless of what happens with this budget, IDOT remains firm that its new rules ensure cities only install necessary traffic cameras.
At the core of this issue remains the battle between revenue and public safety, but city leaders we spoke with say there's no question which is more important.
"Safety is a priority, um but the fact remains that when tickets are issued, revenue, the City does get revenue, and it's a decent revenue source and it only made sense to put it back in to public safety related projects. We've used it fund traffic improvements. We've used it to improve street light improvements, all have a very direct benefit to pubic safety. We've used to offset some increased public safety cost so, um, to say it has nothing to do with public safety is absolutely false," said Padmore.

While there could be a loss from traffic cameras, there has been an increase in city sales tax revenue.

The effective budget gap is around $2.7 million dollars.

The Council will receive an operating budget next month and will decide then how to approach the potential revenue loss.

If you have a story you want to tell or an  incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about it.
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