Red-light cameras could bring in $1.5 million per year to city of Kent

Installation planned for 2019 at five intersections

Drivers caught by red-light cameras in Kent are expected to generate revenue of at least $1.5 million per year to the city when the system becomes operational in 2019.

Police Chief Rafael Padilla received approval from the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Oct. 9 to set up a contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS) Inc., to install two cameras each at five major intersections. The red-light cameras will be the first in the city, which does operate school traffic zone cameras to catch speeding drivers.

“The cameras have the potential to generate about $175,000 per year at each intersection,” Padilla said at the meeting.

That would add up to about $1.75 million per year, but ATS staff told Padilla that the non-payment figure by cited drivers lowers the amount the city can expect to collect. Drivers caught running red lights will be fined $136.

Kent plans to use the revenue to purchase body cameras for police officers. A start date for the red-light cameras has yet to be determined.

City staff costs are expected to be about $171,600 per year. Kent Municipal Court plans to add a judicial specialist at a cost of $103,620 per year for salaries and benefits to help cover the extra staff time for red-light fines. Costs for other court staff is about $28,080.

Kent Police will pay officers to review violations at an overtime rate of $70 per hour for the anticipated 570 hours needed for approximately 1,719 violations per month, according to ATS. That total cost would be about $39,900.

Padilla said the goal of the red-light camera program is to help reduce violations and collisions at some of the city’s most traveled intersections. He said the secondary goal is to generate revenue for the city by citing dangerous drivers as they travel through town.

Police used 2015 stats to determine which intersections have the most collisions whether or not the crashes were caused by running red lights. The five intersections that are scheduled to get the cameras based on the number of collisions are:

• 104th Avenue SE and SE 240th Street (60 collisions)

• 104th Avenue SE and SE 256th Street/Kent Kangley Road (48 collisions)

• Central Avenue North and East James Street (37 collisions)

• 84th Avenue South and South 212th Street (37 collisions)

• Central Avenue North and East Smith Street (35 collisions)

Council President Bill Boyce asked Padilla to also consider red-light cameras at Pacific Highway South and Kent Des Moines Road because part of that intersection generates red-light camera revenue for the city of Des Moines. Padilla said the intersection didn’t make the top five list for collisions in Kent. The portions of the intersection in Kent don’t have cameras.

Staff checked with the cities of Renton, Federal Way and Lynnwood and were told collisions had decreased at the intersections where they installed red-light cameras.

“They see a big initial surge in tickets issued and then it tapers off and tends to level off,” Padilla said. “Data indicates it does reduce collisions but creates other possible collisions like rear enders.”

Padilla plans to bring back a proposed contract and costs with ATS to the Public Safety Committee later this year for approval to install cameras.

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