150 speed cameras planned for school zones - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

150 speed cameras planned for school zones

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Speed cameras are headed to school zones around Memphis and some drivers support the plan.

"I think they should because it's automatic," said Miriam Wilson, for speed cameras. "You should be understood that you're supposed to slow down when you're crossing a school."
Other Mid-South motorists think the idea is a money grab.

"First they go up on the property tax, they go up every kind of fee they can think about, and then they want you to also to pay for these speed cameras," said Charles Brown, against speed cameras. "This is an extra. To me it's an extra tax, that's what it is."

The city is planning to install 150 new cameras to catch speeders. The council cleared the way for the new cameras during its marathon budget debate Tuesday evening.

Council members said the speed cameras are all about safety, but there's no denying these cameras will bring cash into city coffers. The council hasn't included any estimated money from the cameras in its 2014 budget. Any money the city collects will be a bonus.

Battle to balance Memphis' budget


Councilman Myron Lowery sponsored the proposal. Initially he was recommending just 15 cameras, but the rest of the council liked the idea. Lowery cited a study into speeding near two Memphis schools.

"In just one hour before and after school 376 vehicles were measured," Councilman Lowrey said. "Not one driver went below the 15 school speed limit."

The study examined Corning Elementary, it also found that 64 percent of all drivers were speeding during non-school hours.

"These cameras will catch those speeders and send them a ticket," the councilman said.

Lowery says contractor American Traffic Solutions could install the cameras. It would take one to three months to get 150 installed. ATS already manages the city's 15 red light cameras.
Cameras in school zones won't cost the city anything. The cameras will be leased and they'll be paid for with the fines from the cameras.

Council members say the cameras are for public safety, but they'll also bring in potentially big bucks. Councilman Lowery estimates the cameras could produce millions of dollars in revenues for Memphis.

"For those folks who drive safely and according to the law, there's no effect at all," he said.

Police officers would review the pictures of speeders to determine whether to issue a ticket.

"I think this is win, win for the citizens of Memphis," he said. "Taxpayers dollars are not being used in this project, only those who speed will get a ticket so taxpayers are free and above and those who don't break the law will never receive a ticket."

City ordinance mandates that revenue from cameras goes toward neighborhood watch programs or policing, but the council could change that and send the money to the general fund.
The 150 cameras is a big number for a city the size of Memphis. According to ATS, the city of St. Louis uses 75 cameras and New Orleans has just 62. The cameras bring in lots of money into many cities. For instance, in 2012 Washington, D.C., took in more than $85 million for their 150 cameras.

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