City's new speed camera company says it lost money during rocky start
By By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun
Mar 12, 2013 | 5:28 PM
Baltimore's new speed camera company says it took in $18 million in revenue last year — a nearly 10 percent increase from 2011 — but still lost money, thanks in part to a rocky start in the city.
In a statement to investors, Brekford Corp. of Anne Arundel County said the company lost $1.2 million in 2012, in part because it had to buy and install new cameras for Baltimore to replace the old ones. In addition, the firm said, more motorists than expected in other jurisdictions where it runs cameras failed to pay their tickets.
Company officials did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement, C.B. Brechin, Brekford's CEO, said that despite the costs, the Baltimore contract was a boon for the company.
"We consider 2012 a watershed year for Brekford, primarily due to our selection as the official vendor ... for the City of Baltimore," Brechin said. He noted that Baltimore's two systems represent the largest combined speed and red-light camera program in the country.
The company took over operation of the city's 78 speed and 81 red-light cameras Jan. 1. The cameras had to be replaced, however, because the previous vendor, Xerox State & Local Solutions, took necessary software, Brekford officials have said.
City officials say that some cameras are now working, though public data do not show any speed camera citations issued this year.
Brekford is now replacing all of the cameras. City officials have said that for the speed cameras alone, the cost will be more than $4 million, with the city paying about half and Brekford half.
Brechin predicted that the Baltimore cameras would start producing revenue for the firm after April.
A relatively small firm in competition with bigger companies for municipal contracts, Brekford took in $18.3 million in revenue in 2012, which was 9.5 percent greater than 2011, when the company took in $16.7 million, officials said.
"The Baltimore program will more than triple Brekford's market presence in 2013 with respect to managed traffic enforcement cameras," Brechin said.
City government took in $19.2 million from the speed cameras last fiscal year, and has brought in more than $48 million since 2009 when the cameras were first installed. Each month the speed cameras are offline, the city could be losing around $1 million in revenue.
Brekford also runs speed camera programs in smaller jurisdictions, such as Laurel, Salisbury and Hagerstown.
After an investigation into the city's old camera system last year, The Baltimore Sun documented scores of erroneous tickets, including one violation issued to a minivan that was sitting motionless at a red light.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appointed a task force to review the camera system and issue recommendations. The group last met in January.