Traffic camera vendor agrees to smaller cut of Cedar Rapids' revenue

Traffic flows under the automated traffic cameras on I-380 northbound near J Avenue NE as seen in an aerial photograph i
Traffic flows under the automated traffic cameras on I-380 northbound near J Avenue NE as seen in an aerial photograph in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids will keep more of the revenue from automated traffic cameras when they are eventually reactivated, while the third-party vendor that runs the program has agreed to a smaller cut as part of a contract extension approved by the Cedar Rapids City Council on Tuesday.

The contract with Sensys Gatso USA Inc., formerly just Gatso USA, is extended from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2021. The agreement also notes the name change to Sensys Gatso USA.

Under the plan, the Beverly, Mass.-based company would receive $20 from each $75 speed ticket and $22 from each $100 red light ticket, while the city would keep $55 per speeding ticket and $78 per red light ticket. That is a swing of $5 less per ticket to Gatso and $5 more per ticket kept by the city. That could translate to a $500,000 shift based on the 100,000-plus tickets that were being issued annually when the cameras were ticketing.

Cedar Rapids has not been issuing tickets on Interstate 380 since April 2017 amid court battles, but Mayor Brad Hart said recently the I-380 cameras would be turned on “soon.” A majority of council members have told The Gazette they would support a plan to turn the cameras back on, although a date for a vote has not yet been set. Three traffic camera locations in the city have remained active.

The camera program had been generating about $5 million a year, largely from the cameras on the I-380 S-curve, which sees about 80,000 vehicles per day. The city retained about $3 million for the police department general fund, and Gatso had been collecting $2 million. The city projects generating $4.7 million from the cameras in fiscal 2020, and paying Gatso $1.7 million.

City Finance Director Casey Drew said the smaller fee could mean paying Gatso less than the $1.7 million, but the budget was created before the contract was signed.

Drew said the reduction in Gatso’s fee is not tied to a legislative proposal in which the state would take a cut of the traffic camera revenue.

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