As late as February 27, city of Bellingham staff were drafting a budget for the traffic-enforcement camera program; about a month later city officials issued a joint press release saying that the city would pay the camera company $100,000 for the right to halt the program. Click here to see my story about the agreement.
I got records back in response to a public disclosure request I did to city hall. The city was very quick in providing the records, and they did so at no charge. The records showed several things:
• Finance staff was working with other departments to create a draft budget for the program. In the draft I have – and I don’t know if it’s the latest – they predicted each camera would issue 10 citations per day, and they’d collect on about 40 percent of them. In total, the budget shows, the citations would yield up to $1.26 million per year. Expenses were estimated to total $726,000 per year, under the draft budget. So the city was expecting to net $533,000 per year. This budget is in line with what staff very early on estimated a camera program might generate.
• The red-light cameras weren’t expected to generate as much revenue as the speed cameras in school zones. The red-light cameras were expected to generate $60,000 per month in citation revenue, or $15,000 each. The speed cameras were expected to generate $45,000 per month, or more than $22,000 each.
• What they didn’t give me is likely much more interesting than what they did. There was a long list of emails and attachments the city withheld, citing attorney-client privilege. Early in Mayor Kelli Linville’s term City Attorney Joan Hoisington sent her a one-page email. Most of those withheld emails took place in March. City Council member Seth Fleetwood previously told me the following, regarding the $100,000 payment to camera company American Traffic Solutions: “There were other tactics we might have employed to stop the cameras, but they all involved risk and the prospect of continued litigation. This result limits our potential financial exposure and puts this whole thing to bed.” It’s unclear whether those withheld emails involved discussion of those ‘other tactics.’ Click here to see some heavily redacted emails that were provided to me.
• The city, including the city attorney’s office, and American Traffic Solutions’ attorney in Seattle, Vanessa Soriano Power, worked together to craft a press release acceptable to both. The records indicated there might have been four versions of it.
Overall, I didn’t see anything too super revealing. I thought it’d be worthy of the blog, because people with a particular interest in the topic might be interested in seeing the records, but probably it doesn’t rise to the level of a print article.