Budgeting for Bad Behavior

Mish posted a story from DetroitNews.com regarding Allen Park, Michigan and how the city sent lay off notices to their entire fire department. It's today's municipal budget reality but one piece of it really rubbed me the wrong way and I fear/imagine that many municipalities practice this.
According to McCurley [city finance director], the city faces a fiscal crunch because revenue in several areas has fallen short of projections. Collections from traffic tickets are $819,000 below what was budgeted, and ambulance billing collections are $200,000 under budget, he said.

Collections from traffic tickets?!? According to the census, this is a town with a population around 28,000 people and they were counting on collecting over $800,000 more than they did in parking tickets?!?

It is absurd that a municipality count on, actually hope that people act badly. And if they don't act badly, if they obey the law then, well, you have to lay people off. How perverse is that??

This isn't the first time I noticed this. In our post from February 9th we mentioned the LA Times budget game. In the game one of the budget items you can control is the projected revenue from installing cameras to fine people who run red lights:
Seriously have these municipalities and those running government lost their minds? You penalize people to STOP BAD BEHAVIOR. If you are successful, if what you did worked, you succeed in making the world a better place and the reward is no revenue because there are no violators. That's what you want! You do not count on bad behavior as A REVENUE STREAM, especially when it entails hoping people run red lights!

Politicians who count on bad behavior instead of attempt to prevent it are at the very least irresponsible, see Allen, MI. At the very worst maybe partially responsible for any horrible accidents that may occur, see California red light cameras.

I mean if you knew a particular street light intersection had frequent red light running violators, wouldn't you do what you could to stop the behavior? Or would you do nothing because the revenue from the tickets is just too sweet?


W.C. Varones said...


And have you seen the dollar price on traffic tickets now?

Regular tickets like rolling a red or crossing a double yellow are now around $450 in California. There are all sorts of fees slapped on top of the fine to fund police, courts, etc., the stuff our regular taxes is supposed to be funding in the first place.

This is a huge regressive tax. $450 is nothing to the rich, but that's a huge amount to California's working poor.

Negocios Loucos said...

Yup. The SF parking scum have gotten me for about $500 all told. The punishments definitely do not fit the crime.

That fake handicap spot on 7th still burns me up. That cost me $300 alone.

Anonymous said...

Cui Bono? Cui Bono? c'mon W.C. - get with the program. Stop fighting it already.

SarahB said...

Excellent observation. Completely unacceptable revenue stream. California is out of control on this one. $500 for a rolling right on red.

Anonymous said...

"California is out of control on this one. $500 for a rolling right on red."

The cure for high prices is ... high prices

Imagine if the majority of the people followed the majority of the rules and laws the majority of the time.... what a wonderful world of skittle shitting unicorns that would be....

Jr Deputy Accountant said...

That's why I LEFT San Francisco! 11 years of putting up with that damn city and THAT is what finally did it.

I haven't gotten a parking ticket since September. I park on my quiet suburban Maryland street or in my neighbors' huge driveway overlooking the Potomac and no one ever bothers my car.

And life is good.

I still have Parking Gestapo PTSD. No joke, I have paranoid nightmares about getting ticketed and towed at least once a month.

I may never recover.

Anonymous said...

that is one heck of a red light camera you got there FDIC honchos Cui Bono, Cui Bono? 'cause everything is everything.

back on topic - we're having big time debates about the use of red light cameras here in St. Louis. We have the notorious "rolling red light, rolling stop sign" people who are like third generation of poor drivers in their families ---- only now they can be distracted by cell phones and other electronic nonsense. Speaking as a person who has been clobbered while riding a motorcycle by one of these morons (R.I.P. Kingpin - I love you Silver bike of the gods!), I'm all for tough enforcement. One of these geniuses almost killed the Smug Bastard - were it not for my Evel Kenievel riding skills and cat like reflexes. Wouldn't that be a shame?

Negocios Loucos said...

I'm all for doing whatever it takes to stop the literally deadly behavior. My point is not against rolling red light cameras. My point is that municipalities are attempting to "earn" money with these cameras instead of ultimately preventing the bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

"I'm all for doing whatever it takes to stop the literally deadly behavior"

Can I shoot a few? I promise to just pick the really, really, really bad ones and make a public example of them. OK, shooting might be a little extreme - how's about I get my locomotive fueled up instead? No stopping on the tracks, dumbass and that means YOU! Get my Casey Jones cap on!

Negocios Loucos said...

I was sort of thinking along the lines of lawful implementation of means to prevent bad behavior. Sort of like putting speed bumps on residential roads that are notorious for opening up the throttle.

But you have a point on the scare factor!

Anonymous said...

"thinking along the lines of lawful implementation of means to prevent bad behavior"

O-kaaaaaaaaaaaaay killjoy. I guess that would be better in the long run......

....but makin' a red mist out of a few idiots who can't understand that the big red sign with the letters "S-T-O-P" written on it means "apply brakes until the 1984 Yugo ceases forward motion" would be a LOT more fun.... where would be be if we allowed trains and planes to routinely do roll stops? In deep ka-ka, mister - that's where.

Anonymous said...

Trooper Wisecracks
1. “You know, stop lights don’t come any redder than the one you just went through.”

2. “Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they’re new. They’ll stretch after you wear them a while.”

3. “If you take your hands off the car, I’ll make your birth certificate a worthless document.”

4. “If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.”

5. “Can you run faster than 1,200 feet per second? Because that’s the speed of the bullet that’ll be chasing you.”

6. “You don’t know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?”

7. “Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I’m the shift supervisor?”

8. “Warning! You want a warning? Okay, I’m warning you not to do that again or I’ll give you another ticket.”

9. “The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not: Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?”

10. “Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go on rides and eat cotton candy and corn dogs.”

11. “Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven.”

12. “In God we trust; all others we run through NCIC.” (National Crime Information Center)

13. “Just how big were those ‘two beers’ you say you had?”

14. “No sir, we don’t have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we’re allowed to write as many tickets as we can.”

15. “I’m glad to hear that the Chief [of Police] is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail.”

16. “You thought we don’t give pretty women tickets? You’re right, we don’t. Sign here.”

Wes The Brico- leur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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