Part of the loss comes from Pembroke Pines’ monthly per-camera payments to ATS, which totaled about $95,500 per month last year for the city’s 22 cameras. Pembroke Pines was left with just about $19,800 last year after paying ATS.
Margate, with only four cameras, did much better, with almost $336,300 left last year after its $19,000 monthly payments to ATS.
In Davie, the Town Council talked about ripping Davie’s cameras out soon after they were installed in 2011, citing concerns about legal challenges and potential costs associated with the program.
But instead, Davie renegotiated with ATS, setting up a contract that lets the city use citation revenue to cover its costs before making any payments to ATS.
Some other municipalities, including West Park, Key Biscayne and El Portal, have negotiated similar contracts with ATS that prevent them from losing money on their camera programs.
Davie’s red-light camera program doesn’t make much money — about $31,000 — but it also doesn’t lose any.
“The purpose of the cameras was not to make money,” said Davie Mayor Judy Paul. “It was to make the streets safer.”
Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said the declining citation numbers prove the cameras make intersections safer by making drivers more cautious.
“Study after study shows that they not only reduce red-light running violations, but they also reduce crashes, including fatal ones,” he said.
Information compiled by Miami Beach’s Police Department also showed that the cameras increased safety where they were installed, said city spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez.
Miami Beach’s cameras are run by Xerox State and Local Solutions, and the city was left with only a little over $700 last year after paying the company’s fees.
“We’re not in this program for the money, we’re in this for the safety issue,” Rodriguez said. “The objective is less accidents, less injuries. We don’t look at it as a revenue generator.”
Miami Police also reported crashes dropping consistently at intersections where the cameras were installed.
In 2012, crashes at red-light camera intersections in Miami decreased by almost 8 percent while crashes citywide dropped about 3 percent, according to the Miami Police Department’s 2012 annual report.
In 2011, crashes at red-light camera intersections in Miami dropped about 10 percent.
One of Miami’s cameras nabbed Miami resident Angel Pittman last fall, and she said the experience changed the way she drives.
“It did what it was supposed to do,” said Pittman, 40. “It caused me to use caution at a big intersection.”
Pittman paid her notice of violation, calling it a “painful lesson,” but fair.
Cameras in busy areas of major cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, which bring in many drivers from out of town, usually turn out more violation notices than smaller municipalities frequented largely by local residents, who know where the cameras are and take steps to avoid tripping them.
Miami is already predicting it will collect about $4.2 million in revenue from the camera program in the 2013 fiscal year. That’s up from $3.66 million last year.
Despite the financial boon, City Commissioners have considered scrapping the program altogether, rather than creating the special hearing boards required by the new law. The topic will be voted on at the next commission meeting this Thursday.
Doral, as well, is considering dropping its program for the same reason. City leaders will discuss the issue in August.
On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale, which made $707,300 last year, is so happy with the program, it plans to expand. Three new camera locations will be added to the 29 the city already has. Those cameras should be operational in August, said city spokesman Matt Little.