Albuquerque seeks to write-off $21M in uncollected red-light camera fines

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s notorious red-light camera ticket program has been defunct for more than seven years, now millions of dollars in unpaid fines may soon be wiped away.

Albuquerque City Council is weighing a request from the Keller administration to write-off $21.2-million of unpaid tickets from the city program, which existed from 2006 through late 2011.

“It was an unpopular program in terms of people not paying their fines,” said Renee Martinez, the finance director for the City of Albuquerque.

While the cameras went away years ago, the city has continued to attempt to collect the outstanding debt generated by the tickets issued from the red-light cameras.

“There was a very large amount of uncollectible debt and we’ve been holding that in our budget, in our accounts for a long time,” Martinez said.

The city says the success rate for collections efforted by a private company has dwindled over the past few years. Many of the outstanding ticket debts are around 10 years old today.

“It will just become harder and harder to collect on these fines,” said Martinez. “The company was telling us that they were not able to collect on many of these.”

While the city says it still has the right to collect on the tickets, even with this debt zeroed out, they admit they’re unlikely to collect the fees and they aren’t counting on anyone paying the tickets anymore as an item in the budget.

“Just understanding that this is something that we need to do financially at this point,” said Martinez.

Albuquerque city councilors and the mayor still need to sign off on the red-light camera debt write off. State law allows the city to write off debts that are four years and older.

In all, the city says it issued $53-million in red-light camera tickets. It was able to collect $31-million in fines, but the program cost the city about $26 million to run.

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