(WKBN) – The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled Thursday that it is legal to reduce state funding to municipalities that use speed cameras to send drivers tickets.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that amendments to the state budget can “setoff” the amount of money raised by cities and villages using red-light camera programs. The Court also upheld a requirement for municipalities to pay a deposit to municipal courts for the collection of photo-enforced tickets.
Writing for the Court, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy rejected claims by the village of Newburgh Heights and the city of East Cleveland that the changes infringe on their authority under the “home rule” provision of the state constitution. She wrote that “the Ohio Constitution does not require the General Assembly to appropriate any funds to municipalities,” and lawmakers have “exclusive discretion to reduce the appropriation of local-government funds” to municipalities collecting fines based on traffic camera operations.
According to the Court’s opinion, the spending setoff “may disincentivize municipalities” from using traffic cameras, but it does not prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing laws, and the statutes do not invalidate those laws, the opinion stated.
Beginning in July 2019, municipalities have been annually reporting to the state tax commissioner the total amount of fines collected from the use of traffic cameras in the preceding year. The commissioner uses the information to reduce the municipality’s share of local government funds.
The reduced share is then reallocated to the municipality’s transportation district for local transportation projects.