Posted: Aug 12, 2011 9:17 PM by Maddie Garrett
Tickets from red light and speed cameras generate millions of dollars in Lafayette, but are they really for safety purposes only?
When a fine shows up in your mail box for getting caught by one of those cameras, drivers will shell out any where from $25 to over a $100. The money is supposed to go to road and safety improvements, but soon that may not be the case.
"The funds are dedicated to traffic safety, they are not used to pay my salary or anybody else's salary, they're dedicated to one time capital kinds of expenditures," said Transportation Director Tony Tramel.
Tramel gave that statement to KATC less than two months ago. But come November, his statement might not be true.
"We can use it for many things, as long as it's traffic related, traffic transportation related," said Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel.
Durel is now suggesting that $1.3 million, a portion of the money generated by the traffic cameras, be used to pay salaries and benefits for employees in the traffic engineering department.
"This has come to me over the last two or three years as a suggestion as a way to pay for some of the issues for traffic and transportation. I've resisted that because I've always kind of envisioned this money to go to things more concrete, literally, like roundabouts or you know some of the things we have to spend on the roads," explained Durel.
Durel said he is disappointed by the idea, but believes it's the best way to fill a $1.3 million gap in next year's budget.
"So we have this money over here that we can legally and appropriately use for traffic and transportation issues or we can go into our reserve account and dip, cut back on our savings account. So to me it was the best choice we had," said Durel.
But the plan may not pass the city-parish council. Member William Theriot told KATC using the revenue for salaries and benefits changes the cameras' purpose from safety to money. And some drivers agree.
"We've got a lot of roads that could really use repair, and I don't see them being repaired any time soon, and they're making all this money why not repair them. It don't need to go to salaries," said Glen Bourgeouis, a Lafayette driver.
The council still has to vote on the matter, and will discuss it at their next budget hearing on Thursday.