PAWTUCKET – Revenue from the city’s traffic camera enforcement program is projected to come up short of budgeted amounts for the 2020-2021 fiscal year ending in June, but not by as much as one might think given school zone cameras being shut down for long periods and fewer cars being on the road.
Wilder Arboleda, spokesman for Mayor Donald Grebien, responded to a Breeze inquiry this week by saying that the total revenue to date from the red-light camera and speed zone program is $1.1 million. The budgeted amount for the entire year is $2.46 million.
Arboleda reiterated that the Pawtucket Traffic Camera Safety Program is first and foremost meant to keep children and families safe when schools are in session and operational.
“With some schools reopening once again, we ask that residents continue to drive with caution through our schools and neighborhoods,” he said.
With some students expected to now come back to Jenks Middle School, Varieur Elementary, Nathanael Greene Elementary and Potter-Burns Elementary in a partial return to school, cameras in zones near those schools will all come back online, said Arboleda. Those were the same schools where cameras were on for the first semester of the year before schools were shut down early for a long Christmas break.
Two of those schools also happen to be along the busiest local roadways, including Newport Avenue and Smithfield Avenue, and two others are on Division Street and Pleasant Street.
Arboleda said budget projects were based on nationwide statistics for the first year of having a traffic safety camera program in place. Projections were kept lower for conservative budgeting purposes, he said.
“The city’s goal is for this program to reduce speeding and save lives through education. The revenues are slightly below projections halfway through the year. We hope this number is down based on individuals’ awareness to follow the law in order to save lives versus the cameras that were not operational,” he said.
This is one of a number of budget projections that has fallen below forecasts mostly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he added.
Responding to a question on how the lower revenues impact private camera operator Sensys Gatso, Arboleda said the city negotiated strict terms with the company to protect taxpayers. The city only pays a fee for cameras when they are operational.
A violation captured by Pawtucket’s red-light camera program comes with an $85 fine. That compares to $50 for speeding in school zones. As a reminder, cameras trigger a violation and a $50 ticket when a driver hits 11 mph over the 20 mph speed limit, or 31 mph.