Aurora voters will have the final say on whether to keep the city’s photo red light program, which snaps photos of drivers entering intersections after red lights.
The program has been a controversial one in Aurora and across the state. State lawmakers attempted three times with legislation to outlaw the programs. Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed two bills; the most recent measure died in the legislature. It’s created revenue for the city, which would go away if the program did too.
Some city council members said in meetings this summer they are for expanding the program — which has 14 photo red light systems at 10 intersections across the city — but wanted voters to have the final decision on what to do. Council member Marsha Berzins and now-mayor Bob LeGare drafted language for the question.
City council members approved the ballot question at the beginning of summer, but later amended the question to expand the question to allow for information regarding the process of how tickets are issued and where the revenue goes.
Each incident is reviewed by an Aurora police officer before a ticket is issued — a point the police often stress during presentations on the program.
Beyond the increased safety the police say the program provides, it’s helping fund some non-profit organizations based in Aurora.
The revenue goes to several community programs. Last year Aurora Mental Health Services received $340,000, nearly $120,000 went to Gateway Domestic Violence and Comitis Crisis Center $287,000. In all, the city allocates about $1 million from the program to non-profit organizations.
Council member Charlie Richardson raised concerns about putting the question on the ballot in the first place because he believes the public isn’t in favor of the traffic enforcement systems, and that could lead to a revenue loss for those organizations. But Berzins said that’s always been a stipulation the city has been aware of, and that the money could also easily disappear if a bill was signed into law.