AuroraElection 2018Hot SheetPublic Safety

Aurora will ask voters whether to keep its photo red-light program

Author: Kara Mason - July 12, 2018 - Updated: July 12, 2018

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(Photo by youngvet, istockphoto)

This November, Aurora voters will have the final say in whether the city keeps its photo red light program.

Aurora City Council members gave the green light to the ballot question earlier this summer after some back and forth on what the question should look like.

The members ultimately decided on: “Shall Aurora continue to issue photo red light tickets to drivers that enter an intersection after the traffic light turns red?”

There are currently 14 stoplights at 10 intersections equipped with the systems in the city. If voters approve of keeping the program, that could allow more systems in the city. City council members discussed that possibility earlier this year when they extended an operating contract long enough to cover the lights through the rest of the year.

If voters keep the program, the city could begin implementing even smarter systems: cameras that have the ability to monitor six lanes of traffic, pick out illegal turns, measure speed, and detect uninsured motorists and wanted vehicles.

9News raised the question earlier this year whether those details would be included in the ballot question.

“The answer to that question is no because that is going to be totally unrelated to the question. For us to do all of those things with red light cameras would be a major policy change, and that would go through an extended public outreach process,” Now-Mayor Bob LeGare told the station. “Once this is on the ballot, there’ll be some opposition group pointing all of these things out.”

Not all council members are thrilled about the ballot question. Council member Charlie Richardson said during meetings he was concerned that asking voters about the program would lead to its demise, and with that would go funding to several other programs.

The photo red light program allocated more than $340,000 to Aurora Mental Health Services last year. An additional $287,000 went to Comitis Crisis Center, which helps people facing homelessness. Nearly $120,000 went to Gateway Domestic Violence Services. In total, nearly $1 million is allocated to different programs within the city each year from the tickets the photo red light systems generate.

Richardson said people might vote the program away without knowing the positive contributions it allows.

This legislative session the city opposed HB-1072, which would have eliminated the use of programs like Auroras. The city cited the program’s successes in its reasoning. The bill failed to make it passed the House Committee on Transportation & Energy.

Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Kara Mason covers southern Colorado, Aurora and statewide issues for ColoradoPolitics.com. She also writes for the Aurora Sentinel.