A bi-partisan effort in Springfield may strip away Oak Lawn’s ability to use red light cameras forcing the municipality to raise property taxes to cover the shortfall that could be as much as a million dollars.
House Bill 323, co-sponsored by Republican David McSweeney and Democrat Jonathan Carroll, amends the Illinois Vehicle Code by repealing a section that provides municipalities the authority to use automated traffic law enforcement systems at intersections in which cameras are used to photograph or video record a motor vehicle’s failure to stop and yield as required by traffic control signals. In other words, red light cameras would become illegal.
The bill also imposes limits on the power of local governments to use automated speed enforcement systems to provide recorded images of a motor vehicle for the purpose of recording its speed.
This bill, unlike another sponsored by the bi-partisan members, applies to all municipalities regardless of whether it is a home rule community, like Oak Lawn, or non-home rule community.
The two representatives may know that the red light cameras provide a great deal of money to local municipalities because the language specifically amends state law to deny any reimbursement from the state for the money that will be lost.
The Illinois Policy Institute has claimed that red-light cameras have served as a revenue generator for local government without any improvement in traffic safety. IPI has often cited a 2018 study by Case Western Reserve University that contradicted claims by local governments that red light cameras reduce accidents. The study found that the cameras simply cause more rear end accidents while increasing accidents overall.
Local governments, however, have relied on red light camera revenue as well as video gaming revenue. In Oak Lawn’s case, the revenue has replaced property tax revenue that would probably have to be increased in order to make up for the shortfall.
The Illinois Municipal League has announced that it will oppose the legislation, which was referred to the Rules Committee on January 1oth. Oak Lawn has several red light cameras at intersections including 95th and Cicero, 95th and Ridgeland, 97th and Southwest Highway, and 111th and Cicero.