Montebello Wastes $500,000 on Red Light Cameras

Montebello deficit fueled by overtime costs and less revenue than expected from red-light cameras.  

Whittier Daily News:  By Thomas Himes, Staff Writer, Posted: 02/11/2010 07:00:49 PM PST

MONTEBELLO - Officials Thursday estimated the City's budget deficit at $3 million and outlined reasons for the shortfall that range from red-light cameras to overtime hours.  Over the past week, nine employees lost their jobs, dozens more took 5 percent pay reductions and several agreed to retirement, as officials worked to close the deficit.

"Unfortunately, this day has been coming for a long time," said retired city administrator Richard Torres. "I was hoping it could be avoided for at least another year."  Red-light cameras fell about $500,000 short of the projected revenue they were expected to create.

"If the program does not result in a positive revenue my recommendation is that we end it, Narramore said."  The city paid consultants $55-per-hour to administer the red light camera program, according to city documents. "We incurred a lot more expenses and a lot less revenue than we thought we would from the cameras," City Councilman Robert Urteaga said. "People simply identified where the cameras are and stopped."

Mayor Bill Molinari said the cameras, which are located at six intersections, have increased public safety.
"The intersections where these cameras were installed had frequent collisions and a number of fatalities," Molinari said. Also, overtime hours the city paid to firefighters exceeded estimates by about $500,000, Narramore said. "All overtime has been stopped unless it's an emergency," Narramore said. "We're just not paying overtime for someone to come in and do something they can do the next day."  But, the state's Government Code mandates a minimum of four firefighters to a truck, Narramore said.  "If someone calls out sick, we have to pay some else time-and a half to come in," Narramore said.