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Originally published Monday, July 22, 2013 at 8:53 PM

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School-zone ticket fees to only pay for safety projects

The Seattle City Council voted to establish a separate fund for money raised by school-zone traffic-camera tickets, with the revenue going exclusively to safety projects near schools.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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No, the money from these cameras will not go to safety projects near schools. Much of t... MORE
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I am so damn mad at government. Don't believe it for a moment these cameras are to... MORE

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The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to spend money raised by school-zone traffic-camera tickets exclusively on road- and pedestrian-safety projects near schools.

Mayor Mike McGinn has said he wants to invest all those funds — which amounted to $3.3 million after the pilot program’s first six months — into road-safety projects near schools. But he wanted that money to stay in the general fund so there would be more flexibility when the city wanted to spend it, according to his spokesman, Robert Cruickshank.

The separate fund the council established Monday would require every penny to be spent on operating and maintaining the cameras; safety education; and capital-improvement projects, such as repainted crosswalks, new sidewalks, lights and more camera installations.

Councilmember Nick Licata has said he wanted a separate fund to increase financial transparency for those skeptical of traffic cameras and to ensure the money is spent the way the city promised.

He hopes the same eventually can be done with revenue generated by the city’s 31 red-light cameras.

Because of past difficulties in funding pedestrian-walkway improvements, Councilmember Richard Conlin said at Monday’s meeting that he sees the new fund as “an opportunity, not a restriction.”

In school zones, when vehicles drive faster than 20 mph while yellow beacons are flashing, the cameras take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate. A traffic officer from the Seattle Police Department reviews the $189 citation before it’s mailed out to the owner of that vehicle.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn

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