Monthly Archive for November, 2011

Albemarle’s Red Light Camera Income Ledger

It’s been tough to understand how things are going, financially, for Albemarle County’s red light camera at the Rio/29 intersection, because the stories have conflicted. In September, CBS-19’s Rachel Ryan reported that it wasn’t making any money:

“It’s not a revenue maker for us,” [Sgt. Darrell Byers] explained. “It’s actually about safe driving habits. That’s what we’re out there for, that’s what the cameras are out there for and that’s what we want to see.”

That’s good because Byers says revenue from ticketing has yet to match the $10,000 monthly cost of operating the cameras.

But then, last week, NBC-29’s Henry Graff reported that the county is making lots of money off of the outsourced justice system:

New numbers show that the controversial red light cameras in Albemarle County are keeping drivers safe. Those same numbers also reveal that the project is a cash cow for a county strapped for dough.

Police and county supervisors point out the cameras are to make the intersection of Rio Road and Route 29 safe. That’s priority one, but the extra $82,000 – to date – is pretty nice as well.

So, which is it? To clear things up, I asked Albemarle County Community Relations Director Lee Catlin to send me the data. This is a PDF of the helpful document that she sent me, and here it is boiled down to the basics of the number of citations, estimated income (based on the number of citations), and net income, by month:

Month # Est $ Net $
Dec 322 $16,100 $0*
Jan 574 $28,700 $0*
Feb 484 $24,200 $1,390
Mar 588 $29,400 $12,314
Apr 637 $31,850 $8,643
May 711 $35,550 $12,505
Jun 558 $27,900 $10,692
Jul 562 $28,100 $9,759
Aug 542 $27,100 $13,492
Sep 383 $19,150 $13,992
Oct 217 $10,850 $0***

* Not enough fines collected to reach RedFlex’s $10,000 threshold.
** Redflex advises the month of September figures were higher than normal due to more fees collected from delinquent accounts.
*** System down because of damage to sensors due to VDOT repaving. Only $8,167.67 in fines were collected, which was not enough to cover the monthly payment. That payment will roll over until enough fines are collected to make up the difference. The county is not responsible for paying the difference.

So that’s $82,769 that Albemarle County has made to date, with the remainder of the money—the $10,000 monthly fee—going to RedFlex, the Australian company that owns the cameras. That’s the source of the gap between the gross and the net. (You can read the county’s contract with RedFlex, if you’re interested about the specifics of the agreement.)

I don’t know what was up with CBS-19’s story—whether Ryan just got the story wrong or Sgt. Byers was giving her bad information—but it sure looks like Graff got this one right.

Occupy Charlottesville Running Out of Time

City Council has told Occupy Charlottesville that they’ve got to move out of Lee Park tomorrow, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29, but it’s not at all clear that they’re leaving. City Council is no longer willing to extend the special use permit that’s allowed the protesters to camp out in Lee Park for the past six weeks, and they’re increasingly sympathetic with neighbors who would like to regain normalcy in the park. The city has suggested a series of potential alternate sites, with McIntire Park at the top of the list. Occupy Charlottesville’s reaction is mixed. It’s by no means a monolithic group, as can be seen in the minutes from yesterday’s general assembly of members. While some or even most members might move to a new location, there are some members of the Charlottesville group who won’t leave unless it’s in handcuffs, a confrontation that the city is clearly eager to avoid.

Crozet Library Loses Some of Their Space

Things just keep getting worse for the beleaguered Crozet library. The Board of Supervisors decided to build a replacement for the shoebox-sized library back in 2006, delayed it over and over again, and the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library finally threatened to close it entirely if they didn’t receive enough funding to keep it open. (JMRL won that political battle, getting the bit of funding that they needed from the BOS, allowing them to remain open, albeit for rather limited hours.) All this despite serving an area that has ballooned in population—they have over 10,000 visits monthly in the summer. Now comes word that the fire marshal has had to limit the building’s occupancy to fifty people, Ted Strong writes in the Progress today, and has ordered the removal of a bunch of stored materials. They’re not allowed to add more storage in the parking lot, so they’re going to have to haul things to and from the old Crozet Elementary School.

With a Board of Supervisors that’s been openly hostile to library funding, it’s tough to see when and how things will get better for the patrons of the Crozet library.

City Considering Creating Paid Diversity Commission

City Council is looking at creating a Charlottesville Commission on Human Rights, Diversity and Race Relations, Graham Moomaw wrote in yesterday’s Progress, with the power to investigate discrimination claims and penalize those discriminate unlawfully. Council would appoint seven people to three-year terms, and the group would have a staff of three. It would cost $200,000/year to operate. They’d have oversight over private employment and housing discrimination. Council is likely to consider the proposal at next Monday’s meeting.

USPS Distribution Center Move Means Mail Delays

An audit of the new mail sorting facility has found that they’re slowing our mail down significantly, Megan Davis writes for the Daily Progress. It was two years ago when the USPS announced that they were moving the Charlottesville mail processing facility’s services to Sandston, east of Richmond. There was a lot of concern at the time that the move would negatively impact mail delivery in the area, and that turns out to have been well-founded. The USPS Office of the Inspector General has issued a report (which I can’t find on their website you can read it here) finding a 100% increase in delayed mail passing through the Sandston facility between the last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011. In the former period, our mail was still being processed locally; in the latter, it had moved to Sandston. In fact, the facility has the worst record in the country, with 12% of all their mail delayed. Those delays were rarely reported; a single day audit found 350,000 delayed letters, none of which were recorded.



You are currently browsing the weblog archives for the month November, 2011.