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D.C. wants to use traffic cameras, booze sales to close budget gap

Wednesday - 3/28/2012, 6:52am  ET

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Traffic camera fines would help close the budget gap. (AP)

WASHINGTON - The proposed budget for D.C.'s fiscal year 2013 would use money generated by more traffic cameras and additional hours of alcohol sales to close a $172 million gap.

While some bar and liquor store owners are behind the idea to expand the hours alcohol can be sold, the plan to increase the city's traffic camera program has received a critical response.

Some say the city is trying to profit from unsuspecting out-of-state drivers. The 2013 budget, proposed by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, would include more than $100 million in cuts and $70 million in new revenue, most of it coming from traffic cameras and alcohol sales.

AAA is one organization opposed to the ramped-up camera presence on the road. John B. Townsend II, spokesman for the AAA Mid-Atlantic region, told The Washington Times he won't support a measure designed to fill city coffers.

"We're in a very slippery slope now. I think this ruse has been exposed," Townsend said.

Increased "traffic-calming" measures using speed and red-light cameras are expected to bring in $24.8 million in revenue. The new cameras will cost the city $5 million.

The use of traffic cameras at all is a controversial issues. Police and proponents say they promote safety, while the opposition contends they simply act as a revenue service for the city.

Traffic cameras generated $80.4 million for D.C. in fiscal year 2010.

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)