Red light cameras in the McHenry County area are sparse but bring in millions of dollars in revenue annually.
Fox River Grove and Lakemoor are the only two municipalities in the county that use red light cameras. Lake in the Hills and Algonquin both shut down red light camera programs in 2016. Fox River Grove officials said there are no plans to take down the camera at the intersection of routes 22 and 14.
Lakemoor, which sits in both McHenry and Lake counties, is in the midst of a class-action lawsuit related to its red light camera program. Lakemoor officials didn’t return calls for comment.
Red light camera programs typically are set up with the intention of making problematic intersections safer. They also are good for revenue – Fox River Grove has collected $1.6 million from violation fees since January 2016. Lakemoor has collected about $3.6 million in the same time period, according to records provided by the municipalities under a Freedom of Information Act request.
That revenue came from 56,904 violations at Lakemoor’s Route 12 and Route 120 intersection and 30,994 violations in Fox River Grove, records show.
Lake in the Hills issued less than 700 first- and second-violation notices in 2016 before the program was shut down, records show. Between 2010 and 2015, the village issued about 3,500 violations, which generated about $412,000.
Village officials decided to end the program because of upcoming construction on Randall Road.
“It will impact [the intersection of Randall Road and Acorn Lane], and we would have had to take the cameras out,” said Lake in the Hills Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Support Services Pat Boulden. “Construction hasn’t started yet, but at the time, we would have had to go into a long-term contract.”
The village also would have to reapply for a red light camera permit through the county and demonstrate a continued need for the camera at the reconfigured intersection after construction is complete, he said.
“The goal of the program was to bring attention to the issue and change driver behavior,” he said. “We accomplished that.”
He said there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in crashes or issues at the intersection since the camera has come down.
Algonquin shut down its program in 2016 as crashes and violation notices dropped.
Fox River Grove Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said the village has no plans to take down its cameras because the program consistently improves safety. He said the village doesn’t rely on violation dollars for operations.
“We specifically … put those funds back in the community,” he said, “so capital improvements, investments into the parks, our facade grant program for businesses in town.”