ST. MARYS — A local representative is among a list of legislators who have put their names on a bill that could ban the use of traffic and speed cameras in Ohio.
House Bill 69, which lists 84th House District Rep. Jim Buchy as a cosponsor, would prohibit the use of the devices in detecting speed and traffic light violations. The cameras, which are popular in larger cities like Toledo, have been debated in recent years as critics have called the devices nothing more than revenue streams for communities.
Buchy, a Republican from Greenville, said he has a philosophical issue with the devices.
“We have a situation today where it’s another case of Big Brother monitoring use without us knowing it,” Buchy told The Evening Leader. “The idea is they are selling public safety and responsible driving, but they have these cameras watching intersections and it’s about better revenue for cities.”
Buchy said the cameras come down to one thing — money.
“Of course it does, why else would they invest in it,” Buchy said. “It costs a lot of money to buy these cameras and the idea is to buy them and watch the return off that investment grow.”
The cameras can be seen as a cash cow for municipalities. An Associated Press article revealed the city of Toledo hauled in $3 million in 2012 as a result of red-light or speed cameras.
The fees collected by Toledo have grown from $788,000 in 2010 to a projected $4.2 million for 2013. More than 68,000 citations were issued last year in Toledo from the cameras.
The cameras are not exclusively used in large cities. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman recently railed against the village of Elmwood Place’s use of cameras to issue thousands of $105 speeding citations to motorists.
The judge ruled the cameras violated the motorists’ constitutional rights to due process and ordered the village to stop the use of the cameras. More than 6,000 citations were issued in the village during its first month using the cameras, which is triple the number of residents who live in Elmwood Place.
St. Marys Interim Safety-Service Director Greg Foxhoven said the cameras do not have a place in the city.
“I am sure they have their place,” Foxhoven said. “I just don’t think they are a good fit for us in St. Marys.”
Foxhoven said the camera system has a few flaws that could hinder the effectiveness of the devices.
“I can understand that it could be tricky to identify the driver of that vehicle,” Foxhoven said. “I think in some cases the cameras may be appropriate, but they aren’t for us.”
A call placed to State Rep. Ron Maag, one of the main sponsors of the legislation, was not returned as of press time.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.