Ohio High Court rules on speed camera dispute | News, Sports, Jobs
A law that cuts state funding to municipalities that use the speed camera app is constitutional, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled.
The Youngstown Police Department had used hand-held speed cameras almost exclusively on Interstate 680 between South Avenue and Meridian Road from August 2015 to November 2019. Girard, Weathersfield and Liberty also used the cameras application.
But Youngstown halted the program after the state legislature passed a bill that cut a municipality’s Local Government Fund (LGF) money by the amount it received from handheld speed cameras. and going through red lights.
The Local Government Fund was created with the enactment of the state sales tax in 1935, and a designated portion of state revenue is distributed to county and local governments.
The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law on Thursday in a case brought by the Village of Newburgh Heights and the City of East Cleveland, both in Cuyahoga County, who argued the law violated their authority under autonomy.
In the decision, Judge Sharon Kennedy wrote: “The Ohio Constitution does not require the General Assembly to appropriate funds to municipalities” and its members have “exclusive discretion to reduce the appropriation of local government funds” based on speed and the application of speed cameras at red lights.
She acknowledged that the law “may discourage municipalities” to use the cameras, but this does not prohibit their use.
Youngstown received about $2.2 million in radar money in 2019, compared to about $1.7 in LGF. The city ended the program because the money from the speed cameras was used exclusively to buy police equipment and to pay the officers of this service, who did it overtime at time and a half. LGF money goes into the city’s general fund.
There is, however, an exemption in state law to the LGF deduction for cameras in school zones. Money collected by the city for school zone speeding tickets can only be used for school safety resources.
On Thursday, coincidentally, the Youngstown Board of Control finalized a deal to install speed cameras in school zones.
Blue Line Solutions will install the cameras in school zones later this year. The Chattanooga, Tennessee, company will oversee cameras and issue civil citations to those caught at least 11 mph over the speed limit in school zones.
Now that the contract is approved, city officials said they will discuss a schedule with Blue Line for installing the cameras. There would be a 30-day grace period after the cameras were installed, during which people caught speeding would receive warnings by mail.
The city will receive 65% of the money raised through speed citations, with Blue Line receiving the remaining 35%.
Speeders would be subject to civil penalties of $100 for driving at least 11 mph over the speed limit, $125 for 12-19 mph over the limit and $150 for those driving at the minus 20 mph over the limit. They wouldn’t get points on their driving record for civil citations.
The city’s police department hasn’t written a single speeding ticket in a school zone this year.
Youngstown officials have not determined the uses of the revenue.
About five years ago, more than 7,700 people driving on a stretch of Interstate 80 in the town of Girard were cited and charged for speeding because speed cameras had been set for a construction zone limit of 55 mph, when in fact construction had ended and the regular 65 mph was in effect.
Late last year, a Trumbull County judge signed a settlement with the camera company, but the judge absolved the town of Girard of financial blame.