WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington is once again ready to spend taxpayer’s money on red light cameras in the city, despite a slew of legal challenges facing camera systems across the state, as well as the country. The camera systems are placed at over a dozen locations throughout the city and capture vehicles accused of running the red light they are stationed at.
City Council placed the item on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting, where leaders will vote on spending $190,000 of taxpayers money on the system — all without any discussion in public unless the item is removed from the consent agenda.
Despite bringing in approximately $1 million annually, the camera systems cost about half of that – $480,000 – and it is not paid for by the collection of funds from red-light runners.
According to the agenda item, “The program collects approximately $1,000,000 in fines annually and in accordance with the State Constitution, 90% or approximately $900,000 will be paid to the New Hanover County School Board. ATS provides the data collection, processing and billing services necessary to run the Safelight program. Annually, these services cost approximately $480,000.
“When the 10% residual funds, or about $100,000, are applied to the project, the City has a net cost of approximately $380,000. That cost is shared with New Hanover County via an interlocal agreement for 50% of net costs up to $234.000. The program has not historically eclipsed the $234,000 limit. The estimated county/ city General Fund contribution for the upcoming project year is approximately $190,000 each.”
The tickets accrued from the SafeLight program are not the easiest thing for the city to enforce either. Payment of the tickets is harder to ensure than actual traffic citations since warrants cannot be issued for failure to pay but the city can, in theory, take someone to small claims court if enough tickets were accrued.
The Wilmington SafeLight program recently faced a lawsuit after the City of Wilmington denied an appeal to a red light ticket.
The city’s system is also facing an investigation by the state board in determining whether or not the system was illegally installed by not using a licensed engineer.
Locations of camera systems
There are 13 locations for the red-light cameras and they are as follows, it is worth noting that each camera is unidirectional, taking photos of only one part of the intersection.
- Eastbound Market Street at New Centre Drive
- Westbound Market Street at 23rd Street
- Southbound Wooster Street at Third Street
- Northbound Seventeenth Street at Dawson Street
- Eastbound Dawson Street at Third Street
- Westbound Wooster Street at Seventeenth Street
- Northbound College Road at 17th Street
- Eastbound Dawson Street at Sixteenth Street
- Westbound Wrightsville Ave at Colonial Drive
- Southbound Sixteenth Street at Wooster Street
- Northbound Carolina Beach Road at Southern Boulevard
- Westbound Market Street at Seventeenth Street
- Northbound Third Street at Dawson Street
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.P@Localvoicemedia.com