For the first time, the Mayor of Newburgh Heights opened up about what so many of you have argued for years.
This comes as a local lawmaker prepares to introduce a series of bills that could shut down speed cameras statewide.
For years, cops have stood along I-77, ticketing huge numbers of drivers with speed cameras and bringing in big money in fines for Newburgh Hts.
Now, Mayor Gigi Traore tells the I-Team that the Village would be broke without the camera tickets.
She said, “It’s still what we have for revenue, and we have to sustain it so we can continue to provide the services to our residents.”
Drivers have spoken out many times criticizing the speed cameras as, simply, a way to make money without having much impact on safety. Drivers get the tickets in the mail weeks after they’d been clocked by police.
Yet, the Newburgh Hts. Police Chief has claimed the camera ticket program is all about safety.
Now, the Mayor says that without those fines, the Village wouldn’t be able to pay police, firefighters, and more.
The Mayor said, “You know, it’s both. We can’t have safety if we don’t have the revenue to cover the safety forces.”
The I-Team checked. So far this year, Newburgh Heights has filed in court nearly 50-thousand speed camera tickets and the Garfield Hts. Municipal Court has collected more than 2 million dollars in fines for the Village.
Nonetheless, the Village just laid off three workers.
Those layoffs come after Village Council members said the Village lost a lot of money when the traffic camera program had been put on hold. It was stopped temporarily due to a dispute with the Court.
State Representative Tom Patton plans to introduce new measures soon that would shut down speed cameras statewide.
He said, “We have a few rogue cities. Little ‘burbs that are out of control.”
Patton has tried to pass new regulations for speed cameras before. Now, he’s also targeting companies overseas that process camera tickets for Northeast Ohio communities.
“The idea that 40-50-60 percent of this fine money is going overseas. It boils my blood,” Rep. Patton said. “Too many of these local governments that cry, ‘safety, safety, safety,’ they’re counting money as they go to the bank.”
He said, “I’ve always believed if you have a good bill and a good cause, you press forward.”
For the first time, the Mayor of Newburgh Hts. admits the Village can’t live without those tickets.
The Mayor said, “We have to be realistic. Services don’t happen at cost. They’re not free.”
She added that Newburgh Hts. might be able to back off on traffic tickets if the town can generate economic development.
The I-Team recently studied traffic safety on that stretch of highway, notorious for camera tickets.
Statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show the number of crashes has gone up in the last two years. Records show, in that stretch in 2020, a total of 24 crashes. In 2021, a total of 29 crashes. And, last year, 40 crashes.
Nearly a quarter of the crashes last year were speed-related. That is the same number as back in 2018.