The cost of a red light or school zone infraction in Lynnwood is going up soon. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

The cost of a red light or school zone infraction in Lynnwood is going up soon. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Lynnwood council OKs new fees for traffic photo, school zone tickets

The council added $25 fees to all photo-enforced tickets and added two speeding ranges for school zone infractions.

LYNNWOOD — Owners with vehicles caught rolling through some red lights or speeding by some schools in Lynnwood will pay more soon.

The Lynnwood City Council on Monday voted 6-0 to add a new $25 traffic safety impact fee for photo enforcement tickets. One council member abstained from voting.

The council also approved changing the red light ticket ordinance to reference state law for its fine amount, and adding speeding ranges for school zone enforcement fines.

Over the past two decades, the program has generated millions of dollars in revenue.

Most of that money since 2018 has come from beyond city limits. Around 86% of offenders had vehicles registered at addresses outside Lynnwood, according to data presented by Lynnwood Police Chief Jim Nelson at last week’s council meeting.

“A $25 administration fee helps offset the burden to Lynnwood (taxpayers) by shifting those costs to the individuals who are causing that increase in costs,” Lynnwood City Council member Patrick Decker said.

The $25 fee will be collected by the city with the intent of using it for the criminal justice fund, but the ordinance does not specify the fund. That ambiguity allows for flexibility and helps the city track it after the fines initially are recovered by the municipal court, city finance director Michelle Meyer told the council.

Treated like a parking ticket, the citation goes to the vehicle’s registered owner after a camera records the license plate of the vehicle. It doesn’t go on their driving record.

Lynnwood was one of the first cities in the state to implement a photo enforcement traffic program in the early 2000s. It also was the first in Snohomish County to install school zone speeding cameras in 2009.

“You can choose to not pay the fee by following the laws,” Council President Shannon Sessions said.

State law caps red light photo enforced ticket fines to other parking infractions in the jurisdiction. Currently it’s $139.

The new school zone speeding ranges are:

• 6 to 10 mph over with a $150 fine;

• 11 to 15 mph over at $200;

• 16 to 20 mph at $250;

• and higher speeding at $300.

All of the higher fines drew the ire of former council member Ted Hikel , who criticized city leaders during public comment.

“This is a robbery of the people,” Hikel said.

Council members George Hurst and Jim Smith liked the intent of improving safety, especially near schools. But like Hikel, they disliked what they perceived as a revenue move. Both still voted in favor of the changes.

“It really bugs me that this really is a fundraiser for the general fund for the city,” Smith said.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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