Dan Trelka mug new


DES MOINES — A plan for the state to take the lion’s share of the ticket revenue away from cities with traffic cameras hit a yellow light Wednesday.

The bill failed to secure a majority of votes in the House Appropriations Committee, but will come up for reconsideration next week.

The House plan to scoop up 60 percent of the revenue generated by traffic cameras could cost nine cities using the devices $6.5 million annually, according to a fiscal note prepared for the Legislature.

The $6.5 million would go into the state’s coffers under House File 674, one of two traffic camera-related bills moving in the Legislature ahead of its April 5 deadline for bills to be approved by either the full House or Senate and a committee in the other chamber.

Waterloo, which was not included in the legislative report, would have forked over about $180,000 of the $300,000 it has generated since it began utilizing automated traffic enforcement in November 2017.

Waterloo Police Chief Dan Trelka does not support the House bill.

“I’m all for the state taking a reasonable portion,” he said, “but 60 percent is ludicrous.”

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In Cedar Rapids, the 40-60 split would have cost the city about $2.4 million of the $4 million it collected in camera fines in fiscal 2017.

The bill would regulate how cities use the cameras and take 60 percent of the revenue after overhead costs are paid. Funneling that revenue into a state public safety fund would “remove this dark money cloud out from the cities,” according to House Public Safety Committee Chairman Jarad Klein, R-Keota.

For the third year in a row, the Senate has approved legislation to ban the cameras. Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, who cited concerns about due process, alleged cities deploy the cameras more for the revenue than for public safety.

Supporters contend the cameras, often placed at dangerous intersections or crash-prone stretches, make roads safer by discouraging bad driving.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency provided lawmakers with a fiscal note showing nine cities — Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Windsor Heights, Muscatine, Fort Dodge and Ottumwa — with traffic cameras collect $10,754,021 in revenue from the cameras. The vendors that supply the cameras reported revenue of $5,890,105.

Staff writer Tim Jamison contributed to this article.

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