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School Zone Camera Proposal Needs More Work

Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, are being asked by Jamestown to shepherd a bill through the state Legislature allowing the city to install speed cameras in school zones.

Borrello and Goodell should not introduce the bill as proposed by Mayor Eddie Sundquist and approved by the Jamestown City Council.

The cameras would be activated if someone drives 30 miles an hour in a 20 mile an hour zone, with drivers receiving a $50 ticket. The city would receive $32 from every fine. Signs are required to be installed notifying drivers the cameras are being used.

First, it doesn’t appear Jamestown has done the necessary work to merit speed cameras in all school zones. The city justifies the cameras with statistics of incidents in school zones. But those statistics are not limited to school hours, which makes us wonder how bad the problem of school zone speeding really is.

Second, it makes little sense to allow drivers to drive up to 30 miles an hour in a school zone that had been limited to 20 miles an hour. All the bill actually does is eliminate the 20 mile an hour school zone, which makes one question the effectiveness of the existing 20 mile an hour school zones in the first place.

Those first two problems, coupled with the Sundquist administration’s plan to increase parking fees and fines, a plan to increase city revenues with school zone safety an ancillary consideration. Borrello and Goodell should craft legislation that deals with those two issues.

There is a third issue that has arisen from Buffalo and its experience with Sensys Gatso, the company Jamestown proposes to hire. In early December, Sensys Gatso had a clerical issue that resulted in 20,000 citations to be mailed too late, making them invalid and leading to refunds to drivers. Some Buffalo residents have complained about receiving tickets several weeks after a citation was written, which violates the enabling legislation passed by the state Legislature. There have also been complaints about tickets being issued when school isn’t in session and drivers receiving multiple tickets for the same infraction.

Borrello and Goodell have been handed a bad bill by Sundquist and the City Council. While we think the region’s state legislators can write something better, shouldn’t that work be done locally with an eye toward making trips to school safe for parents and children as well as common sense?

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