N.O. mayor says they may be on their way out – mostly
Anyone who opened the mail to find a “camera ticket” from New Orleans is likely waiting for Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s move on getting rid of them.
City spokeswoman LaTonya Norton said the revenue from traffic cameras is part of the 2017 budget.
“The removal is part of the 2018 budget conversation that is happening now,” Norton said.
Cantrell has said they’re moving in the direction of keeping the traffic cameras in school zones and operating them only during school hours.
The cameras are an issue of dollars and sense for the city of New Orleans.
In 2017, they brought in $22.4 million. This year’s estimated total is $29.2 million.
But Cantrell is responding to an angry public over the controversial and costly subject of camera tickets.
New Orleans has 112 cameras and 12 mobile units issuing tickets.
Attorney Paul Massa, who represents clients on speeding tickets in the area, said camera tickets pose a process lacking a judge and court.
“There are no rights involved,” Massa said. “It’s an administrative process like a parking ticket. You get something in the mail as the registered owner, but whoever was the driver doesn’t always get the ticket.”
If the driver pays the ticket it doesn’t go on that person’s record, but there’s no court or due process.
“You can go to an administrative hearing, but for the most part, excuses are screened out by the video,” Massa said.
In New Orleans, he said it’s about the money.
“When you get that thing in the mail and it’s got your name on it, you’ve got to decide if you’re paying it and if you don’t pay it up front they want you to pay the late fees,” Massa said. “It’s about the money. They can tax drivers, but not themselves.”
Run up a bill and a $100 ticket could easily turn into $200 or $300, Massa said. If it goes unpaid, the amount can go to a collection agency, which he said “equates to a gouge.”
A driver with unpaid tickets will be placed on the “boot list,” which means not getting a vehicle back until all the tickets are paid and this includes camera tickets, he said.
“Lots of time people call me with more than one camera ticket and qualify for a boot or tow,” he said. “It’ll add up and it’ll be in the thousands that could end up on a credit report and hurt you.”
As to the impact of these tickets, Norton said the city issued 365,693 camera tickets last year.