Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers passed measures within a week of one another that pave the way for speed cameras to be installed in school zones, pending New York State approval.
The Suffolk County Legislature approved a home-rule message at a special meeting Tuesday requesting that the State Legislature pass a law permitting the cameras—a revised version of an earlier request that was withdrawn. The latest vote came six days after the Nassau County Legislature voted for the same request at a special meeting of their own.
“Enactment of this program in Suffolk County would reduce the incidence of speeding near schools, and therefore, protect the safety of school children,” reads the legislation Suffolk passed.
Nassau lawmakers said they too were thinking of the children when they passed the measure shortly after that legislature also approved agreements to end a three-year wage freeze on county workers—raises that will cost between $129 million and $190 million over the next four years. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s control board, has yet to schedule a meeting to consider either move.
The cameras would be installed in one school speed zone per school district in each county—56 in Nassau, 69 in Suffolk. They have been projected to collect $29 million to $57 million annually in Nassau.
Speed cameras work much like red light cameras that have been deployed across Long Island in recent years: they will be automatically triggered when sensors detect a driver speeding more than 10 miles over the 20-mph limit in school zones. Vehicle owners will then be mailed a summons to pay a $50 fine. And the cameras are a part of a pilot program that requires state reauthorization after four years.
Critics questioned whether the speed cameras will be set to operate during summer school, during after-school activities when the school speed restrictions run beyond the traditional 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., how much money the counties will actually get and if the projected revenues would drop, same as happened with the red light cameras.
The state Assembly and state Senate bills are sponsored by leaders of both chambers, indicating the legislation has a good chance of passing before their summer break starts in mid-June. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled his intent to sign the speed camera bills into law, should they pass.