Parma Heights hits brakes on speed camera as new law puts state funding in limbo

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PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio– The city of Parma Heights is putting the brakes on its red light and speed cameras, at least temporarily.

A change in state law prompted the shutdown, but city officials hope a court ruling next week allows them to turn the cameras back on.

“I got a $100 ticket from that and I was right in the middle of it, right in the middle of the light as it turned yellow,” said one driver.

Parma Heights has one stationary traffic camera, located at the intersection of Pearl and York roads. On July 3, the city pulled the plug on it and a mobile unit it stationed across the city.

“If we continue to run the cameras, we run the risk of having the revenues that we would have received, subtracted from the local government fund, which we receive from the state,” said Parma Heights Mayor Michael Byrne.

Earlier this month, a new state law went into effect that impacts the amount of revenue cities can keep from camera citations and the way they collect it.

“Instead of running it through our mayor’s court here, we’d have to run it through a municipal court, which would be additional charges and so forth,” Byrne said.

Byrne is keeping a close eye on a challenge to the law filed by the city of Newburgh Heights that will be heard by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge next Monday.

“Down on this street actually, they have a cop that sits there and takes pictures and I feel like that’s more than these do, more accurately,” said another driver.

In passing the law, some state lawmakers believed cities were using the cameras simply as a revenue generator, instead of a safety tool.

“The bottom line is people wouldn’t be getting these tickets if they weren’t doing something wrong… Everybody always warned me, just go with yellow and stay put, and that’s what I did from there on out,” Byrne said.

So far this year, Parma Heights received more than $320,000 in traffic camera revenue. The total for the year was expected to be $675,000.

“It impacts the budget… If this stays, that the cameras cannot be turned back on, we’ll make adjustments to the budget accordingly,” Byrne said.

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