Challenging traffic cams, lawmaker wants to test effect on safety


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Traffic cameras — drivers don’t like them and some politicians in Columbus don’t either.

Just four months ago, Ohio cities won a major court battle over traffic cameras to make them legal again. Now lawmakers are once again trying to shut them down.

Recently, Representative Bill Seitz introduced a bill to test if the cameras actually improve safety. The bill would essentially make the cameras a money-losing operation.

For every dollar from speed cameras that cities bring in, they could lose an equal amount from the state.

Seitz’s proposed bill would change a couple of things:

  • All tickets would be filed through municipal courts instead of mayor’s courts or an administrative hearing officer
  • For every dollar in fines received, the state would take that same amount from the money it gives cities through the local government fund

Seitz could not be reached for comment on Tuesday but in an interview with Cleveland.com, he said the cities claim the cameras are all about safety and not money, saying, “we’re going to put them to the proof.”

Youngstown Mayor John McNally said it seems as though Seitz’s bill is out of spite.

“To take away local government funds, which are actually income tax dollars that come from residents here in Youngstown or Dayton that go to Columbus and then flow back to the cities, it seems to be just nonsensical.”

McNally said the city’s local government fund from the state is about $2.2 million.

Youngstown police have brought in almost $750,000 a year through the traffic cameras.

“If you want to subtract $750,000 of that just out of spite, quite frankly, you could do that but it would just be another huge cut to our budget,” McNally said.

As far as safety, McNally said they have the numbers to prove the cameras work. The city has had a 30 percent decrease in accidents.

“We’ve been able to reduce the physical speed of vehicles on I-680, we’ve been able to reduce the number of fatal accidents — I think zero — since we put it into effect.”

The bill is targeting red light and speed cameras, however, no communities in the Valley use red light cameras.