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Baltimore County Council eyes requiring speed camera funds to go to traffic safety

A Baltimore County Council bill introduced Monday would require a quarter of the county’s revenues from speed cameras to pay for traffic safety improvements.

Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican who represents the Towson area, introduced the bill at the council’s Dec. 17 meeting.

The bill would require 25 percent of speed camera revenues to be allocated for traffic safety measures, such as traffic-calming devices, road safety improvements and radar speed signs. Half of that reserved money would be required to be used in school zones.

“Every Councilmember is inundated with requests for improvements to slow down traffic, and there is never enough money to complete these projects,” Marks said in an emailed statement. “Speed camera revenue should go for specific purposes — to slow down traffic.”

Marks said in an interview that he is open to talking with County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. about whether his goal could be accomplished without legislation. “But I simply feel that the revenue from speed cameras should be going to distinct traffic safety programs,” he added.

Currently, Marks said the money goes into the general fund, where it pays for public safety programs, including helicopters and body cameras.

Speed cameras are only allowed in school zones according to state and county law. They are installed at 61 public and private schools around the county.

Citations are issued when drivers are going more than 12 miles per hour above the speed limit, according to the county website. Violators pay a $40 fine.

Maryland law mandates that traffic camera revenue be used to recover the costs of implementing the camera program. The remaining funds must be used for “public safety purposes,” including pedestrian safety programs, according to the State Highway Administration.

Baltimore County had 1,877 speed-related traffic accidents in 2017, according to state data. In those incidents, 13 people were killed and 563 were injured.

Bryan Fischer, president of the Towson Communities Alliance, said in a news release that his organization supports the legislation and hopes it will fund projects on Towson routes including Regester Avenue and Stevenson Lane.

The bill will be up for a vote on Jan. 22, Marks said.

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