Assembly member Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) announced today that he has introduced a legislative package which establishes the New York City School Safety Fund. This fund would serve as a "lock box" to ensure that all fines collected through the city's speed and red light camera programs are used by New York City officials solely to bolster pedestrian safety in school zones. Reilly introduced these bills in response to a new law which increases the citywide total of mobile and stationary school zone speed cameras from 140 to 750, and another pending Governor Cuomo's signature which uses cameras affixed to school bus stop signs to ticket motorists who disobey them.
Reilly has been an outspoken critic of the speed camera program since 2014 - when it first launched - and has maintained that his concern is the chronic misuse of monies collected by the city Department of Finance as a result of fines issued to motorists. Those monies specifically are deposited to the city's General Fund, an account which has historically been raided by city officials, including the Mayor, who have treated it as a non-penalty ATM. Reilly voted against the legislation that expanded the school zone speed camera program earlier this year, debating that bill's sponsor, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick of Manhattan, on the effectiveness of the program and how the funds are spent.
He expressed similar concern with how monies collected as fines through this new camera program would be spent as well.
"New Yorkers are being lied to that the sole purpose is to reduce speeding and protect pedestrians, when the truth is that these programs provide a steady stream of revenue for municipalities like New York City, which collected over $1.8 million in fines over the last fiscal year," said Reilly.
Monies deposited into the New York City School Safety Fund would be available to the Chancellor of the city Department of Education, the Commissioner of the Police Department, and the Commissioner of the city Department of Transportation for the purpose of supporting various pedestrian safety improvement initiatives throughout the city, such as hiring additional crossing guards, installing new signage, and restoring faded road markings like crosswalks.
Reilly added: "What I am proposing would actually save lives by utilizing those monies specifically for pedestrian safety improvement initiatives, which is a cause that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle should be eager to get behind."