A North Jersey state senator has proposed a bill that would take red light traffic camera revenue away from local municipalities and redirect it to a state traffic safety fund.
The proposal by Sen. Michael Doherty [R-Warren] is aimed at testing the idea that municipalities use the cameras for safety rather than revenue generation by taking away the revenue and sending it to a fund dedicated to highway safety projects ranging from education to capital improvements on roadways.
Doherty said in a statement that "if increasing safety is truly the goal, it makes sense for red light camera ticket revenues to be deposited in a fund dedicated to improving highway safety."
"Under current law, most red light camera ticket revenues go to supporting bloated municipal budgets, which is unproductive," said Doherty. "Since increasing safety is supposedly the goal of red light cameras, we should put ticket revenues to productive use in the Highway Safety Fund which is dedicated to making New Jersey’s roads safer."
Doherty has long fought to ban the use of red light cameras in New Jersey, and has even circulated a petition on the matter.
Brick Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis took a different view.
"The state has enough trouble spending the money they get from us taxpayers as is," he said. "The last thing I would want to do is give Senator Doherty, and more people in state government, more money."
"If they want to do away with red light cameras, let them vote to get rid of them," said Acropolis. "This grandstanding by both sides, by people who want them and don't want them, has to end."
Doherty said in his statement that municipalities may not want to keep the cameras around without the possibility of revenue flowing into town coffers.
"How many towns and local officials will continue to demand the opportunity to install red light cameras or fight to keep the cameras they already have if their share of ticket revenues is cut off?," asked Doherty. "My guess is very few. That will prove that the real purpose of red light cameras is to use citizens as a cash cow to fund big government."
Brick Township operates cameras at three intersections – Route 70 and Chambers Bridge Road; Route 70 and Brick Boulevard; and Brick Boulevard and Hooper Avenue.