Red-light tickets are a regressive tax

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Tom MacMillan is certainly correct that red-light cameras are fundamentally a cash grab, but I tend to disagree with his conclusions [River Forest got my state tax refund this year, Viewpoints, May 2]. 

My first observation is that local government has to pay its bills one way or another, and politicians find it much easier to cover shortfalls by raising fees (garbage collection, water and sewer, etc.) than raising taxes. Red-light tickets are just another fee operating as a back-door tax. If you want a different result, elect politicians who have the guts to do the unpopular, but intellectually honest, thing and raise taxes. 

My second observation is that a homeowner who collects significantly fewer than the average number of red-light tickets probably comes out ahead, as opposed to being hit with a real estate tax increase. The more expensive the home, the better the math works. McMansion owners should be thrilled to pay the occasional red-light ticket rather than pony up more taxes to pay for local government. Renters and inexpensive condo owners, not so much. 

Red-light tickets are a regressive tax, arguably about as regressive as taxes get.

Bob Stigger

Oak Park

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2018 11:19 PM

Great point Bob Stigger! Next time I am going to just avoid having my kid drive in River Forest, get a red light ticket, and then when the town doesn't mail the ticket have the fee double. Why didn't I think of that, I just avoid it. And the best part is that I live in Oak Park and it helps River Forest property taxes stay low. What joy. What I will avoid is shopping in River Forest. Bob, learn to read so you can understand what was being discussed. If you don't ever see the ticket it has nothing to do with safety.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: May 9th, 2018 12:56 PM

Agreed that not regressive because it can be avoided, but a de facto tax nonetheless.

Dale Jones from River Forest  

Posted: May 9th, 2018 11:24 AM

Red light camera fines are not regressive because people have the option of avoiding the payment by simply obeying the law. If you choose not to obey the law because it is too hard or inconvenient, the choice is yours.

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