New Mexico governor signs bill diverting ticket camera profit

| 3/27/2008

An effort to remove incentives to post red-light and speeding cameras in the city of Albuquerque now is law. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has signed a bill that funnels profit from the program away from the only city in the state to use the enforcement tool.

Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez said the rules adopted in the new law, previously SB442, won’t change anything. He said the automated cameras will stay because they make roads safer.

Until recently, drivers who were caught running red lights and speeding at 20 intersections around town were mailed $400 tickets. The fines allowed the city to generate more than $5 million in profit during the past two fiscal years.

Starting July 1, the fines issued to drivers caught running red lights and speeding at 20 intersections around town will be limited to $75.

Revenues will be routed to state coffers. Courthouse construction bonds will get 90 percent of the revenues while the other 10 percent will be used to deter drunken driving.

Costs for Albuquerque’s contract with the private company running the program will stay with the city.

Other legislation of interest to truckers didn’t make it through the statehouse before the regular session ended. Among the measures to die was a bill that sought to route money from the state’s general fund to the Department of Public Safety.

Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Carraro, R-Albuquerque, SB200 called for appropriating nearly $16 million to the State Police in fiscal year 2009. The revenue would have been used to higher more officers and support staff.

Advocates said more money is needed to help the department in an ongoing “bidding war” in recruiting law enforcement officers within the state and across state lines.

Another failed effort also sought to divert money from the general fund. Sponsored by Sen. Diane Snyder, R-Albuquerque, SB118 called for sending revenues collected from the motor vehicle excise tax to the state road fund.

The excise tax is a 3 percent tax paid on the sales price or reasonable value of vehicles at the time an application for certificate of title is made.

A fiscal impact report shows the transfer would have amounted to $136 million for roads in fiscal year 2008. The revenue is expected to increase by about 4.2 percent annually.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Mexico, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor