City of Kent breaks $5 million mark in school traffic camera revenue

Program began five years ago to slow drivers

The city of Kent broke the $5 million mark for revenue collected since it first installed cameras to catch drivers speeding through school traffic zones five years ago.

A total of 9,113 citations in 2018 resulted in revenue of $1.1 million, said Barbara Lopez, interim city finance director, in an email to the Kent Reporter.

The city paid Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS) $367,333 last year to provide the camera services that include the equipment as well as mailing out tickets to owners of vehicles caught speeding at four elementary schools.

The school traffic camera fund had a balance of about $691,000 through May 31, Lopez said. Once the costs are paid to ATS, the rest of the funds can be used for enforcement and processing of traffic and criminal laws, according to city ordinance.

The 2019 and 2020 budgets from the fund include $868,000 each year to purchase vehicles in support of the car per officer program that Kent Police started last year that allows officers to take the vehicles home. A total of 29 vehicles will be purchased at a cost of about $62,000 per vehicle.

Police issue a $136 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.

Kent began the program with cameras in 2014 at Sunrise and Neely-O’Brien elementary schools at the request of the Kent School District in an effort to slow drivers at schools with the most violations during traffic studies. The city added cameras in September 2015 at Meridian and Millennium grade schools. The city added cameras in March at Springbrook and Meadow Ridge grade schools (those stats are not part of this report).

Citations were down in 2018 compared to 2017 at two schools and up at the other two schools.

Sunrise had 2,353 citations in 2018 and 2,798 in 2017; Meridian had 1,627 in 2018 and 1,686 in 2017; Millennium had 1,452 in 2018 and 1,436 in 2017; and Neely-O’Brien had 3,686 citations in 2018, and 3,401 in 2017.

The totals were 9,118 citations in 2018 and 9,342 in 2017, a drop of 224. The city collected $1.2 million in 2017.

The city issued 9,101 tickets in 2016; 8,122 in 2015 and 8,366 in 2014. Revenue has been around $1 million each year.

Violation rejections

Each year hundreds of drivers caught by cameras do not end up getting tickets issued to them for a variety of reasons.

The 2018 report from ATS showed a total of 13,228 violation events, but 4,110 were rejected. A total of 3,474 were considered non-controllable violations, such as no license plate on vehicle, violation not processed within the statutory time frame, no state Department of Licensing information and other reasons, according to ATS.

Another 622 were considered non-violations such as emergency vehicles in the zone and drivers caught on school snow days or holidays when no children were in school.

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