Star Valley will continue its photo radar enforcement program for another year. The council first signed a five-year contract to run the program with RedFlex back in 2007, with the option to extend the agreement for a year.
At its July 17 meeting, the Star Valley council exercised that option.
The town launched the program to get motorists to slow down as they came through town. It later also became a major source of town revenue.
“We have safer traffic and it produces revenue. The extension is not a bad deal,” said Councilor Vern Leis
Mayor Bill Rappaport stressed that the town didn’t set up the cameras to generate revenue. He added that public meetings held before the town installed the system showed strong public support.
The fines resulting from the system have added to Star Valley’s bottom line over the years. At one point, for fiscal year 2009-2010, the town budgeted to put $1.3 million into its general fund from the cameras.
The 2012-13 budget shows that the speed cameras produce a gross revenue of about $900,000 down 23 percent since 2008. However, the town has to cover substantial costs of running the speed cameras and collecting the fines. As a result, the net revenue from the cameras totals about $360,000 annually, say town officials.
The fines average between $187 and $256 depending on the level of speed by which drivers exceed the 45 MPH limit. Initially, town leaders were expecting to see about 2,000 violations per year, but the numbers rose much higher at first.
Before the system went online in March 2008, town officials estimated it would generate about 166 speeding tickets per month, with only 10 percent of the violators slipping through because of bad photos or other problems. Instead, in its first two months the system produced 1,687 photos per month with 20 percent of the violators slipping through.
Not all the money comes to the town. The state gets two-thirds of each fine, RedFlex gets $35 and the balance comes to the town coffers.
Since photo enforcement started the number of violations has dropped, possibly because drivers now know about the enforcement program or there are fewer travelers on the road due to the economy and price of gas.
“I have advised you that tickets will decrease as the cameras do their job. But the drop won’t be so much as to create an added cost to the town,” Tim Grier, town manager-attorney said.
“It’s done a lot of good for us,” said Councilor George Binney.
While Star Valley will continue its contract with RedFlex, Globe’s town council, amid threats of repercussions at the ballot box, recently decided to drop its association with the Australian company. The company gets 18 percent of the paid ticket revenue in the Globe agreement.