Red Light Traffic Tickets For a Cause

The City of Murrieta proposed that revenue from red light-cameras be donated to a local charity

In a departure from other cities that pocket money from traffic offenders for its general funds, a Murrieta councilman proposed that the city donate red-light camera revenue to charity.

Councilman Rick Gibbs suggested the idea at a city council meeting on Jan. 18 in conjunction with the city's plan to add cameras to two additional intersections.

Gibbs said that although the existing three cameras have helped to decrease T-bone and head-on collisions, many residents see the tickets as overpriced moneymakers for the city. Running a red light can come at a hefty cost of up to about $500.

Gibbs said the cost is "just wrong" and a cause for outrage -- the genesis of state legislators trying to close California's financial deficit.

"I don't want the revenue," he said. "My attitude is, just take it away."

According to a police report obtained by the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the city of Murrieta made $261,750 from 8,500 tickets over five years. After the money was divvied among the police who review the camera footage, the state, Riverside County, and the company leasing the cameras, the city had about $18,000 leftover per year.

With the two new cameras under review, as well as any replacements to the old cameras, Gibbs estimated that the city would be left with $5,000. Under his proposal, the money would go to a local charity that has applied for Community Development Block Grants.

"Having an extra $5,000 might not be that much in the grand scheme of things, but it might be important for one of those charities," he said.

Gibbs added that, if voted through, it would be months before the plan could be implemented.

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