- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Red-light cameras in Fairfax County are not moneymakers like those in the District and surrounding counties. In fact, Fairfax County officials said yesterday they will lose up to $300,000 in 2003.
The program's 10 cameras will generate $1.1 million in revenue, but expenses will reach $1.2 million to $1.4 million, said Bruce Taylor, who runs the county program.
Fairfax County made a $370,000 profit in fiscal 2002, but lost nearly $100,000 in fiscal 2001, the first year for the program.
Other programs across the metropolitan area have done much better. The D.C. program, which uses 39 cameras, has made about $12 million over three years. The 20 cameras in the Prince George's County system made roughly $1 million in 2001 and nearly $600,000 this year. Howard County made about $850,000 with 25 cameras in 2001.
Montgomery County's 20 cameras brought in $3.5 million in 2002, but officials could not say how much it cost to run the system.
Fairfax County officials offered several explanations about why their system is less profitable. Mr. Taylor said tickets are $50, compared with $75 in the District and in Maryland. And each time they relocate a camera, it costs about $40,000 in traffic studies, permits and manpower.
Another factor is that no ticket is issued if a picture has even a slight blur, said Ho Chang, the county's transportation director.
"We're a little more conservative in our approach," he said. "We throw out a lot of questionable tickets."
The county has mailed tickets to fewer than 50 percent of drivers the cameras have caught on film.
For example, from October 2000 to June 2002, the cameras recorded 85,398 potential infractions, but the county sent out only 39,568 tickets.
"We're not trying to make money here," Mr Taylor said. "We want people to understand that the whole thing is about safety. I know other jurisdictions that do things a little differently."
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams acknowledged in September the red-light and speeding cameras were added to generate revenue. The program has made $20 million in its first 16 months.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has said red-light cameras are notused to make money.

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