Red-light camera programs in NC could end

A recent North Carolina Court of Appeals decision ruled that Greenville’s red-light camera program is unconstitutional because too little of the money it generates through penalties ends up with the local school system, the state Court of Appeals ruled.

At issue was Greenville’s funding framework violates the state constitution’s directive that the “clear proceeds” of all fines collected must be “used exclusively for maintaining free public schools.”

The General Assembly has agreed that a local school board must receive at least 90% of the total fees and fines collected to meet the definition of “clear proceeds.” The law establishing the programs was passed the legislature in 1997.

“The clear purpose of the people in mandating that the clear proceeds of such fines be ‘faithfully appropriated’ to the public schools cannot be circumvented by the elaborate diversion of funds or cleverly drafted contracts,” Judge Jefferson Griffin wrote in reversing a lower court decision.

It’s possible the state Supreme Court could take up the case.