City Hall is banking on traffic violators to help balance budget - FOX 35 News Orlando

EXCLUSIVE: Emanuel to include speed cameras in 2014 budget proposal

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel is counting on your lead foot to help him balance next year's city budget.

Sources tell FOX 32 News the budget the mayor plans to propose on Wednesday projects that new cameras designed to catch speeders will net $70 million for the city treasury. That's in addition to $55 million the mayor expects to reap from the existing red-light cameras, totaling $125 million from the two types of traffic cams. That number could go a lot higher.

New computerized cameras caught more than 90,000 motorists breaking the speed limit during a city experiment earlier this year. While no fines were imposed, motorists could have been charged nearly $5 million. And that was with cameras at just four locations. They'll soon be installed at 50.

City officials predict speeders will quickly wise up and slow down. If they don't, doing the math shows fines could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sources FOX 32 News that revenue from traffic cameras will play a key role in closing a projected $338.7 million shortfall in Mayor Emanuel's 2014 city budget.

Despite indications that the speeding cams could yield far more, the mayor's counting on only $70 million from them next year. He's also raising a series of taxes, fees and fines on such things as cable TV, cigarettes, illegal parking, and zoning changes.

Sources said the city treasury is also getting a boost from a recovering local economy, yielding tens of millions of dollars more than was expected from Chicago's share of the state income tax, the sales tax, hotel tax and real estate transfer tax.

None of those long-established revenue sources have the potential for sparking anger that the traffic cams have. A few activists are already organizing in an effort to kill the camera program, vowing to make it an issue in the 2015 city election.

Balancing next year's budget is far easier than in the years after that. Unless things change, huge sums will have to be paid into pension funds for teachers, fire fighters, police officers and other public employees. The mayor's warned that without pension reform, local property taxes could double.

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