Raleigh, N.C. — Red-light cameras will likely reappear at some Fayetteville intersections soon.
On Thursday, lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that will allow the program to be paid for through a joint agreement between the city and the Cumberland County Board of Education.
The city let its program lapse after the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in 2007 that cities could keep only 10 percent of the revenue generated by red-light cameras – not enough to pay for the costly camera systems. The other 90 percent of proceeds had to go to the schools under a provision in the state constitution.
The bill that became law Thursday allows Fayetteville and the school district to manage the contract jointly, getting around the constitutional quandary.
Sen. Ben Clark, D-Cumberland, said city and county leaders and the bipartisan legislative delegation were united in support of the proposal as a way to improve safety and reduce traffic accidents in Fayetteville.
Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, argued the bill is "a speed trap waiting to happen," saying cities would start reducing the length of yellow lights as a way to trigger more tickets and raise more revenue.
"We cannot do that," Clark countered. "There are already provisions in statute that dictate the duration of the yellow light."
Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, said he would vote for the bill because Fayetteville already has statutory authority to have the cameras. But he said Senate Republicans remain opposed to the systems and warned other cities not to seek to follow Fayetteville's lead.
"Members of this body will continue to fight to eliminate red-light cameras in North Carolina," Hise said. "We have not been successful in persuading our colleagues in the House, but I don’t think that effort is going to end."
The measure calls for the fine for a red-light camera ticket to be set at $75 initially, rising to $100 by 2015.
House Bill 1151 passed the Senate 36-13. It had already passed the House, and because it's a local bill, it becomes law without the governor's signature.