It has been a long time since Speak Up rang off the hook with grumbling complaints about the city’s red-light camera system. But it might be time to revisit the idea, as the city of Fayetteville recently has.
Red-light cameras were fixtures in the 1990s and early 2000s at intersections with high numbers of collisions in Rocky Mount and in other cities around North Carolina. The cameras took pictures of the license plates of drivers who ran red lights. Citations were mailed to the offending drivers, and the money they generated was split between the city of Rocky Mount and the company that operated the system.
That came to a screeching halt, if you’ll pardon the pun, in 2006 when the N.C. Court of Appeals noted that 90 percent of revenue collected for such offenses should be turned over to the local school system, as stated in the N.C. Constitution. As a result, most cities in North Carolina unplugged the devices.
While many of us had our issues with Big Brother’s cameras, there was little doubt that the system worked. Accident rates declined at intersections with cameras, and the money collected from violators was a windfall for the city.
Fast-forward to 2014 and we learn that the city of Fayetteville has come up with an innovative way to reinstate the cameras – and help fund the local schools system. Fayettevlle petitioned the N.C. General Assembly for local legislation that would allow the city to once again take pictures and collect fines.
Under the new arrangement, 90 percent of the money collected from fines goes to Cumberland County Schools. The schools system sends the city of Fayetteville enough money to cover the cost of operations.
With Twin Counties schools systems facing a money crunch almost every year, maybe it’s time to reconsider red-light cameras for Rocky Mount.