When I lived in Chicago I had several friends who were members of the city’s police force. (I met them at the local deli where they regularly had lunch).
One day I asked one of them if it was true that the city had a “quota” for how many tickets each officer in traffic enforcement was required to write each month. Despite the police department’s official statement that “no such quota system exists”, my friends admitted that there was indeed such an animal. (As we became more PC, the “quota” was re-named an “index”. But as the immortal bard said, “What’s in a name?”)
The city derived a lot of revenue from the issuance of these citations and the collection of the fines.
About two and a half years ago I wrote a letter to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. We were in the throes of the recession and Obama-bashing. The unemployment rate was rising as fast as the housing market was careening downward. I offered a plan which could both provide employment and bring in a large amount of revenue to the city’s rapidly dwindling coffers.
While I didn’t expect to be featured on one of the nightly news shows as ‘the genius who saved Las Vegas” I did expect to receive a response from the good mayor. None was ever forthcoming. Maybe I’ll find the original and send it to his wife who succeeded him in that office. (Massachusetts had the Kennedys, Chicago had the Daleys and we have the Goodmans).
The plan was simple and sound. It addressed the disdain that most automobile and truck drivers have for obeying the posted speed limits within the city. Here was a terrific source of new revenue for Las Vegas. All the city had to do was to enforce the laws it had already created for the safety of its citizens!
I suggested that the city hire 120 people to be called, “Traffic Speed Enforcers”. They would be paid a salary of $50,000 per year and be assigned in three shifts of 30 around the clock since Vegas is a 24/7 town. The extra TSE’s would fill in for those who had days off, were sick or were on vacation. Their sole empowerment would be to arrest drivers who were speeding.
We would need to purchase 100 vehicles (10 to be held in reserve for repairs) for the use of these TSE’s. I estimated an inflated cost of $100,000 for the purchase of each of these.
We would modify the speeding ordinance so that apprehension by radar would result in a MANDATORY fine: from 6 – 10 miles above the limit – $25 a mile; 11 miles or more over the limit the fine would be $50 a mile.
I assumed that each TSE would actually work for six of his or her eight hour shift –giving them time to get to their street location, to return their vehicle to the garage and allowing for a meal, breaks and relief stops. I also assumed that they should be able to write two tickets per hour – one low fine and one high fine.
Based on these reasonable assumptions, each of them would produce $4,200 a day in revenue for the city – or $378,000 a day for the three shifts. That works out to $138 million a year. But let’s say that much of that is uncollectable so we’ll call it $100 million a year. I think that’s reasonable.
After one year in effect, the city should show a net profit (after having fully paid for the vehicles, TSE salaries and a very generous allotment for gas, auto maintenance, insurance and “administration”) of at least $75 million dollars. And all this paid for by people who are flagrant scoff-laws.
I see a hand in the audience. Your question ma’am?
For those who didn’t hear the question the young lady asked let, me repeat it.
‘“Wouldn’t people stop speeding, thus reducing the income to the city?”
In answer to your question, if that did happen we would have hit THE JACKPOT!
We all would be rewarded by being safer when we drove. Ultimately, the improved safety should translate into lower insurance rates for all Las Vegas drivers. That would make Las Vegas a better place to live, work and drive.
Well that’s one example of how government can fund itself.
It’s a thought.