10:30 AM EST, December 7, 2012
One would think that after decades of population flight from Baltimore and the city struggling with a property tax rate over double that of the next highest municipality, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake would be highly sensitive regarding the levy of new taxes or fees.
The investigation by The Sun found that for the 2012 fiscal year, Baltimore issued just under 700,000 speed camera tickets, at $40 each, generating total fines just shy of $28 million. It also found that there have been 2.5 million photo enforcement tickets issued, for a total of $100 million in fines ("Delays, detours and dead ends on cameras," Nov. 25). It may be that these figures do not include revenues for the other photo enforcement mechanism, namely red light cameras and therefore may be lower than the actual total of fines levied. In any event, this is an enormous tax like levy on area drivers.
While most would agree that a few speed cameras in front of schools is a good idea, many are frustrated with the ubiquitous coverage of speed cameras and their onerous cousins, red light cameras. The high level of errors, which would have gone unchecked without the commendable work of The Sun, just increases the frustration level. The news of the tripping up of city employees, bus drivers and police adds a comical element.
Many recipients of photo tickets are suburban dwellers who are potential city residents. With the overwhelming No. 1 obstacle in attracting new residents (as well as keeping existing residents) being the city's almost unfathomable property tax disparity with other municipalities, one would think that our public servants would see the shortsightedness of this money grab.
Gary Moyer, Baltimore
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