Records reveal Scottsdale photo radar monetary remits, volume of ticket issuance

Photo radar in Scottsdale enforces speeding and red light running. (File photo)

As Scottsdale continually monitors and updates its photo radar system, it appears this fiscal year is garnering fewer tickets than recent years.

Since fiscal year 2014-15 Scottsdale photo radar programs have yielded more than 40,000 filings annually, enforcing speeding and red light running in the city.

A March records request shows city court photo radar filings totaled:

  • 2014-15: 43,850;
  • 2015-16: 49,985;
  • 2016-17: 49,191; and
  • 2017-18: 41,961.

It appears this fiscal year’s photo radar tickets may be less than recent years. Between July 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, there have been 26,763 filings, records show.

This fiscal year, which ends on June 30, the numbers are averaging just under 3,000 photo radar tickets a month; compared to 2016-17, which averaged 4,099 tickets per month.

There are 11 locations of photo radar in Scottsdale. This is a decrease from the amount of locations a couple of years ago, Scottsdale Police Department Officer Kevin Watts says.

In addition, on March 1, the city activated four new locations, while deactivating two other locations.

Scottsdale’s fixed intersection safety cameras operate 24/7 and capture both red-light violators and those exceeding the speed limit by 11 miles-per-hour or more.

Choosing which locations no longer needed photo enforcement, and selecting new locations was a data-based decision made after city traffic engineers analyzed an aggregate of collision, red light/speeding violations, collision severity and traffic volume data, a city press release stated at the time of activation.

A 2017 study by Lee Engineering, an independent firm specializing in research and forensic traffic engineering, showed that overall crashes decreased by 23% to 24%, and crashes related specifically to red-light running decreased 33% to 35% at the city’s existing intersections with red-light and speeding photo enforcement.

Scottsdale has used photo enforcement systems since 1996, and one elected official states a correlation to safer roadways with the use of the photographic programs.

Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips

“The data we have received shows that there is a significant reduction in traffic collisions after activation of photo enforcement,” said Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips.

“The city cannot possibly enforce all red-light runners 24/7. There simply isn’t enough patrol officers to be staged solely for the purpose of waiting for people to run red lights and it would take away from patrolling neighborhoods and investigating other crimes.”

Mr. Phillips says changing some of the photo radar locations recently provides a safer environment for residents and motorists.

“The police announced the movement of some of the cameras because we are constantly evaluating traffic data and so we can move those cameras to areas that are receiving a high level of collisions, thus providing a safer environment for our residents and motorists,” Mr. Phillips said. “This also ensures that all police resources are being used to their full potential.”

Frank Lloyd Wright has photo radar cameras installed at three locations. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Revenue breakdown

The total number of photo radar tickets issued in recent years has fluctuated in city court filings, which correlates to the total revenue accrued through this method of ticketing motorists.

Mr. Watts says the decrease of filings between 2016-17 to 2017-18 is due to the city reducing its photo enforcement locations by 10.

The changes in photo enforcement locations this spring also play a role in the decrease of this year’s tickets, as warning tickets were issued for the first 30 days of the four new locations.

Total revenue collected from photo radar tickets peaked at $7,248,058 in 2015-16, while this fiscal year’s total revenue through March 31 is at $3,964,009.

However, the city only receives a portion of these remits.

Total revenue collected includes all fines, fees and bonds received for photo radar cases including money remitted to the county and state, the city records state.

Of the total revenue collected, a portion is then shared with the state and county.

The revenue the city receives, is then shared with the court enhancement fund, which receives $30 assessed to each fine, penalty and assessment.

These funds are used exclusively to enhance the technological, operational and security capabilities of the city court, the records state.

Lastly, funds are paid to the photo radar vendor.

The money left over from these expenditures is then put into the city’s General Fund.

For 2017-18, the total revenue collected was $5,987,482. The state and county received $2,587,273, leaving city revenue at $3,400,209.

The court enhancement fund for this year was $863,719, and the amount paid to the vendor was $1,415,321.

The revenue deposited into the General Fund for recent years is:

  • 2014-15: $1,065,800
  • 2015-16: $1,493,778
  • 2016-17: $1,283,476
  • 2017-18: $1,121,169
  • 2018-19: $920,410.

The amount of money collected by the city is not what’s important when it comes to the photo radar program, Mr. Phillips noted.

“The city does not use the collection of revenue from photo radar to enhance our budget in any significant or meaningful way,” he said. “We are more interested in using photo radar for the safety of the public than to collect revenue.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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