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Dayton Mayor Vows Action Over New State Transportation Budget Traffic Camera Provision

Travis Estell
Flickr/Creative Commons

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is vowing to fight a provision in the new two-year state transportation budget that would penalize cities for the use of red-light traffic cameras. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine Wednesday signed the bill, which also raises Ohio’s gas tax to fund road and bridge infrastructure repairs.

The transportation budget requires cities that operate red-light cameras to report any fines the cameras generate, and for the state to deduct that income from their state aid allocations.

The city reported roughly $1.9 million in revenue from its camera program 2018.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says the cameras are effective in reducing crashes and changing driver behavior. And she says city officials are weighing legal action. 

“It's not, to me, an issue of the aid, it's an issue about us being able to govern ourselves and to decide how to keep our streets safe, and we'll continue to always fight home rule -- it’s the basis of the Ohio constitution -- and we don't want the legislature to think that they can violate the constitution on any issue,” she says.

Dayton is among a number of cities across Ohio that have previously challenged state traffic camera restrictions.

Dayton’s traffic-camera program resumed more than a year ago after the state Supreme Court struck down an earlier law mandating an officer be present at camera intersections and other requirements.

The new transportation budget also raises Ohio’s gasoline tax by more than 10.5 cents a gallon, and increases the state tax on diesel fuel by 19 cents.

The tax hikes are projected to generate roughly $865 million a year to fund Ohio infrastructure -- a fraction of the increases DeWine says is needed to maintain the state’s aging roads and bridges.

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Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding Americainitiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.