The city of Kent collected a record $1.2 million in 2017 from drivers caught speeding by cameras in four school zones.
Kent has collected $4.2 million since the school traffic camera program started four years ago with 2017 hitting the highest amount. Kent began the program with cameras at Sunrise and Neely-O’Brien elementary schools. The city added cameras in September 2015 at Meridian and Millennium grade schools.
Kent Police plan to use $868,000 from the fund this year to buy 14 police vehicles as part of a new car-per-officer program that allows officers to take their vehicles home to use for commuting. Police also plan to buy 14 cars each in 2019 and 2020.
Police issue a $124 fine for a vehicle exceeding the 20 mph school speed limit by 1 to 9 mph and issue a $248 fine for speeds of 10 mph or faster above the speed limit. The cameras operate for 30 minutes in the morning before school and 30 minutes in the afternoon after school.
In 2017, officers issued a total of 9,342 tickets, including 3,401 tickets at Neely-O’Brien; 2,798 at Sunrise; 1,436 at Millennium and 1,686 at Meridian.
Ticket revenue hit $1.1 million in 2016 after bringing in $951,835 in 2015 and $927,543 in 2014, according to an email from City Finance Director Aaron BeMiller. The city issued 9,101 tickets in 2016; 8,122 in 2015 and 8,366 in 2014.
Police started the program in January 2014 at the request of Kent School District officials in an effort to get drivers to obey the 20 mph speed limit at schools where traffic studies showed the most violations. But instead of the number of violations going down, numbers went up in 2017 compared to 2016.
Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Inc., has a five-year contract with the city to provide the camera services that include the equipment as well as mailing out tickets. Kent will pay the company $461,560 this year. The rest of the funds can be used for enforcement and processing of traffic and criminal laws, according to city ordinance.