Dayton traffic ticket cameras to shut down by year’s end

The city of Dayton will shut down its controversial traffic light and speed ticket cameras by year’s end, but is taking its case that automated cameras are legal enforcement tools to the Ohio Supreme Court.

City spokeswoman Toni Bankston said Thursday that the decision was made to cease the camera enforcement because the city now has enough data on accident and violation hot spots. The cameras will be removed, she added.

“We kept the cameras on as long as we have to collect data on traffic patterns, accidents, etc.,” she said. “We have collected all the data we require and therefore we are turning them off at the end of the year.”

Dayton is waiting to hear from the Ohio Supreme Court about whether the high court will take its case challenging state law that severely restricts the automated camera use by requiring officers to be present when tickets are issued.

In July, the city said Dayton’s red light and traffic ticket cameras would remain functioning, but relented on its previous stance that they could function automatically.

Bankston added that revenue from the cameras has dropped significantly since July when the city said it would deploy police officers at the automated cameras sites when they are functioning to catch speeders or red light runners.

The change put the city in accordance with a state law passed late last year that caused cities throughout Ohio to close their automated traffic ticket camera systems.

“The city will sporadically place officers at the cameras and issue citations so that we can continue to protect the safety of our citizens while the city pursued all of its available legal options against the state,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said then.

In another state move against city use of the cameras, Gov. John Kasich signed a state budget earlier this year that assured a potential revenue hit if Dayton continued using automated cameras.

Under the language in the budget, the city would lose state funding in an amount equal to what was billed in traffic tickets from March — an amount likely well beyond how much was collected from those tickets.

The billing from the tickets issued amounts to 30 percent beyond what the city can expect to collect. Faced with that potential hit, the city opted to staff some of the cameras.

Dayton wants to keep the ticket revenue collected so far this year and exercise its home-rule authority to enforce its traffic laws without the restrictions established by the state.

The city is on target to receive more than $1.5 million in revenue from the traffic ticket cameras as payments for issued tickets trickle in. In January, the city received $225,272, By October, that ticket revenue had fallen off to $18,401.