Red light cameras barely breaking even for Moses Lake this year

Staff Writer | July 26, 2020 10:42 PM

MOSES LAKE — Red light cameras at four intersections in Moses Lake city limits generated nearly a million dollars in 2019, but the city kept only a bit more than half of that. And this year, the cameras are producing a lot less revenue.

Last year, about 43 percent of the total was paid to Red Flex, the Australia-based company that sells and operates the cameras.

The city took in a bit over $992,000 in 2019 from all fines and penalties, of which just under $969,000 came from citations issued through the red light cameras, according to a budget presentation last spring made to the city council. That revenue was generated from over 10,000 citations, the overwhelming majority of which stemmed from the South Pioneer Way and East Hill Avenue intersection and the North Stratford Road and Mart Road intersection, according to the police department’s annual report.

The city pays Red Flex a flat rate for operating each camera, totaling $421,000 last year. After the company’s charges, the city was left with $547,900, or about 57 percent of the total, for the Police Department, Finance Director Cindy Jensen wrote in a recent email.

That was a significant boost in revenue both to the police department and to Red Flex compared to the previous year, when the cameras brought in over $807,000 in combined revenue, as four additional cameras were installed in the last half of 2018, according to the 2019 budget report. Those newer cameras were installed at North Stratford Road and Mart Road, as well as South Pioneer Way and East Hill Avenue, with one each pointing northbound and southbound.

Though the cameras have been a growing and reliable source of revenue for the police department, the coronavirus pandemic has nearly wiped out 2020’s revenue as drivers stay home and run red lights significantly less often, Jensen noted.

In the first seven months of 2020, drivers have paid the city around $295,000. However, because Red Flex charges the city a fixed amount per camera, only the police department’s take has decreased this year. The police department has netted under $25,000 since the beginning of the year.