Speed Cameras Major Revenue Source for Tennessee City

January 23, 2012

Despite a lawsuit and temporary shutdown, speed cameras in Bluff City, Tenn., have become a significant revenue generator that netted the city nearly $1.6 million.

An audit obtained by the Bristol Herald Courier shows that in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the city’s general fund earned $2.6 million, which included $1.9 million in fines and forfeitures that primarily came from tickets issued by cameras along U.S. Highway 11E .

The city signed a contract with American Traffic Solutions, and the cameras catch speeders going over 55 mph in a 45 mph zone along Bristol Highway in Sullivan County.

Between Jan. 1, 2010, and May 31, 2011, the cameras have resulted in nearly 40,000 citations to drivers from all 50 states, Canada and the District of Columbia.

The city temporarily turned them off last year after a state law required a longer distance between a speed zone change and the cameras. The town had to lengthen the speed zone to comply and refunded $46,700 in fines.

A federal lawsuit has been filed against the town by two people who were issued citations.

The revenue generated from the citations, which cost drivers $50 to $90 each, goes into the city’s general fund. The revenue from the citations exceeds other taxes collected into the general fund, including property taxes, sales taxes and intergovernmental revenue.

City manager Judy Delaney said the city can afford projects that would normally be outside the town’s budget with the money from the citations. The Board of Mayor and Alderman recently donated $50,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol to help start a club in Bluff City.

“The cameras made it possible,” Delaney said. “Without the cameras, we would not be able to do that.”

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