Without photo red light cameras, Aurora programs face termination, cuts

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AURORA | Without revenue from Aurora’s photo-red-light program at least two city programs are facing funding termination and others could see less funding in the future.

Aurora City Council members will delve into how to move forward with the programs without the revenue during Monday’s study session. 

Money for the Aurora Mental Health Triage program and the Metro Community Provider Network could be cut altogether. Staff recommendations show that Triage could possibly pick up private funding and MCPN funding is small enough that the organization could likely absorb it.

Ten intersections in Aurora featured the 14 cameras, which generated about $2.4 million in fines 2017. About half of that was set aside for local mental health programs and organizations that provide resources to people experiencing homelessness or assist domestic violence victims.

Those programs will receive the designated funding through this year, according to city officials, as it was written into the 2019 budget.

Funding isn’t forecasted for any longer, leaving the council to choose where to make cuts. 

The Problem Solving Courts have enough funding to continue through 2019 unaffected, according to the city. But for future years, there is no longer allocations for a possible expansion of the program.

“With that change the program has enough fund balance to carry through 2021. Efforts to identify alternative funding will be undertaken,” according to city documents.

The Aurora Police Department had three sworn officers and two civilian employees working specifically with photo red light, according to the city. They will now be reassigned to different positions within the department.

Additionally, the department is recommending several reductions within the Aurora For Youth program.

The Nexus program, which assists with police-related programs, has $680,000 from marijuana funds that were set aside in 2016 for the purpose of being used if photo-red-light were ever to end.

Nearly two-thirds of Aurora voters agreed in November to end the photo red light. The question asked whether Aurora shall “continue to issue photo red light tickets to drivers that enter an intersection after the traffic light turns red and after review by law enforcement personnel with a portion of the revenues of such tickets funding nonprofit organizations with a nexus to law enforcement.”

The clause wasn’t in the originally approved question, but council members later opted to include it so voters would know how the money from the tickets is used.