A month after Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered the removal of some of New Orleans' traffic cameras, the city is seeing a slightly larger drop in issued tickets than her administration anticipated.
But officials said it's too soon to know whether that trend will continue and widen the estimated $4 million annual revenue gap the camera shut-offs were expected to create.
City Hall on Thursday released a first look at the effects of Cantrell's January decision to pull down 20 of the 31 cameras not located in school zones and to turn off dozens of cameras in school zones outside of the morning and afternoon school-zone hours.
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The data show that in January, the cameras led to the issuance of 33,067 tickets, although about 11,000 of those were pending a final review for accuracy by a law enforcement officer.
By contrast, 40,274 camera-generated tickets were issued in January 2018.
That means the number of tickets dropped by about 18 percent; officials had expected that difference to be about 13 percent.
The impact "will be calculated with more certainty once the tickets are paid and a longer-term trend is identified," according to a city statement.
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During her 2017 campaign for mayor, Cantrell proposed taking down all the cameras as a way to cut a break to residents tired of paying tickets. But she later agreed to leave some cameras up after many residents expressed support for them, particularly those placed in school zones to deter speeders.
Officials have said the cameras are intended to enhance the public's safety, but the city has also increasingly relied on them as a revenue source.
The 11 cameras that remain active outside school zones are some of the city's most lucrative. The ones Cantrell took down accounted for less than 6 percent of the total tickets issued in the first half of last year, according to an analysis by The Advocate.
The administration also adjusted the school zone cameras so that they operate only between 7 and 9 a.m. and between 2:45 and 4:45 p.m. In the past, those cameras could snap pictures of drivers zipping through school zones even outside of designated speed-limit hours.
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All of those changes were expected to generate $4 million less in revenue for the city annually. It still expects to take in about $25.2 million annually from the devices.
Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño has said the city will likely put the 20 cameras that are now completely offline in other school zones, potentially near high schools that do not have cameras now.
"Decisions and timelines concerning those cameras are expected to begin soon," the city's statement said. "Once the location decisions are made, the relocation is expected to take about 60 to 90 days, depending on the necessary construction."
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