Des Plaines Red Light Cameras Delayed
It seems that the Des Plaines‘ city council cannot agree on a vendor for their red light camera program.
But of course, red light cameras are not about revenue, but for improving safety, right?!?
The red light program was approved in April of 2008 and the suburban town is considering 19 locations for red light cameras.
By Madhu Krishnamurthy
With lingering questions about projected revenues and risk, the Des Plaines city council Tuesday night delayed selecting a vendor for the city’s automated red-light camera enforcement program.
The council had authorized the program itself in April 2008 by ordinance. Staff came back with proposals from various vendors Tuesday.
Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini recommended the council choose RedSpeed Illinois from among four vendors who submitted bids because it’s a local company and the police department would not have to administer the program under its proposal.
Though not the most experienced, the Lombard-based company serves 51 communities in Illinois, which is significantly higher than any other vendor, Prandini said.
“We felt that RedSpeed offered the most comprehensive service,” he said.
Yet, RedSpeed’s proposal projected the least amount of net revenues for Des Plaines. The company’s take is 35 percent of every $100 ticket issued, not including other fees it charges for each step of the process.
RedSpeed projects one camera would generate 300 tickets per month with only 50 percent of citations being paid on the first notice. Of the projected $15,000 in monthly fines collected, Des Plaines would get $4,501 when all of RedSpeed’s costs are deducted.
Alderman Carla Brookman questioned why the city should pick RedSpeed over other vendors who were promising more than $9,000 in net revenues for the city.
“I’m uncomfortable trying to generate revenue from this type of ordinance where the lion’s share is going to the vendor at the expense of taxpayers,” Brookman said.
Alderman Mark Walsten asked Prandini how the city would address cameras nabbing motorists making right turns at a red light, a problem that recently spurred public outcry in Schaumburg.
More than 10,000 tickets were issued over 75 days at the intersection of Woodfield and Meacham roads in that town generating nearly $1 million in fines for illegal right turns on red. Sensitivity to public outrage prompted village officials to replace the right-turn red-light camera with right-turn green arrow signals.
Prandini said that shouldn’t be a problem in Des Plaines.
“We’re looking at the traffic safety angle of this and each intersection is going to be reviewed,” Prandini said. “We don’t want to see tickets if somebody made a complete stop. We set those parameters on the front end.”
Des Plaines will be studying whether cameras would help at 19 of the city’s top accident intersections for 2008, as well as the Cumberland Circle roundabout.
Prandini said RedSpeed was widely favored by area municipalities that currently use its service, such as Prospect Heights, Wheeling, Schaumburg and Rosemont. He said the biggest plus is that the company would reduce the police department’s workload.
“The only thing we have to do with RedSpeed is review the citations that they will be sending us every day,” he said. “All of the other companies, the staff time that it would cost us to implement this program would be prohibitive for us.”
Regardless of the vendor, cameras would be installed at no cost to the city once feasibility studies are conducted at targeted intersections.