Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Red-light cameras augment Port Richey's revenue

Traffic cameras with multiple views provide the Port Richey Police Department with evidence of red-light runners in the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 at Ridge Road.


Traffic cameras with multiple views provide the Port Richey Police Department with evidence of red-light runners in the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 at Ridge Road.

PORT RICHEY — With budget season approaching, most cities are cutting costs and tightening their belts.

Port Richey's no exception. But the city of 3,200 does have one source of streaming revenue that most cities don't have: a red-light camera system.

Since May 2, when the Police Department began issuing tickets, dozens of citations have been issued. The grand total for the city's general fund? $15,130.

"It's not large, but it's certainly helpful," said Mayor Richard Rober. "It's absolutely a cushion."

While new bulletproof vests for officers or a fire engine are much-needed items that could be purchased using red-light camera revenue, Rober cautioned against spending that money before budget talks start later this month.

He said the number of tickets written each month varies, so cameras aren't a predictable form of revenue.

"With the funds that might come in, we have to be careful with them," Rober said. "They aren't guaranteed."

Sherri Parker, 47, of Port Richey was taking her friend's son to work one morning when she sailed through a light.

Parker had heard about the camera at Ridge Road and the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 but had forgotten it was there.

"It had changed yellow, but the speed I was going, I didn't have time to stop," she said. "I was like, 'Oh, God. I'm going to get a ticket now.' "

She did — for $125.

When Port Richey installed its red-light camera, it became the first city in Pasco and the third statewide, after Gulf Breeze and Apopka.

Since Apopka's two cameras went up in July 2007, the city has issued 845 citations at $125 each. Like Port Richey, $85 of that goes to the city's general fund, and the rest to American Traffic Solutions, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

So far, $71,825 has been generated from Apopka's cameras, with the majority of tickets written during the first few months of the system's inception.

State law bans the cameras on state roads, so ATS negotiates with property owners near the intersections where cities want the cameras installed. ATS is now talking with property owners about installing cameras at the city's other two intersections — Grand Boulevard and U.S. 19 and Leo Kidd Avenue and Ridge Road.

Supporters of the camera system say it saves lives by cracking down on red-light runners and generating revenue for places like Port Richey. Opponents say the system is a cash cow for cities.

Jim Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association in Waunakee, Wis., has been critical of the cameras because he says people slam on their brakes and cause rear-end collisions before the light turns red.

"If you've got a problem with people entering (the intersection) just as the light is changing, you increase that yellow-light time, and the problem goes away," he said.

Meanwhile, local drivers are learning about the cameras the hard way.

"I didn't know it was there," said Ronald Howart, 64, of New Port Richey, who was headed home from Wal-Mart when he ran the red light and also got a $125 ticket.

"I guess Big Brother is watching."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

>>Fast facts

Caught on camera

Here's a breakdown of Port Richey's red-light camera system:

• How it works: The camera takes two pictures of the vehicle and its license plate — one right before the vehicle is at the white line and another as the vehicle crosses the line and enters the intersection. An officer watching streaming video on a computer decides whether the driver has run the red light. If so, the driver is sent a $125 ticket. Drivers can go online and watch the video of themselves running the light.

• Tickets issued since the program began on May 2: 327 from May 2 to May 31 and 246 from June 1 to June 30.

• Tickets paid so far: 178

• Revenue generated so far: $15,130

Source: Port Richey Police Department

Red-light cameras augment Port Richey's revenue 07/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 6:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  2. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  3. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  4. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says


    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  5. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale


    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.