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TDN file

The police department is seeking $110,000 from Longview’s traffic safety fund — revenue from school-zone speed camera tickets — to pay for an office assistant.

The position was eliminated at the end of 2013, but since then “the volume of photo enforcement work done by police clerical staff has increased fivefold from 2012 to 2014,” according to the proposal.

The Council will take its first look at the proposal during Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The Council also will consider a contract amendment that calls for more money going to the Arizona company that runs the cameras.

American Traffic Solutions essentially is asking to double the rent the city pays on the cameras for all but two of the six school zones.

The monthly cost for the school zone enforcement will rise to $9,500 at St. Helens, Kessler and Olympic elementaries and Mark Morris High School.

Those costs are only paid when school is in session.

ATS is also looking to increase web payment fees to $4 and up the per-ticket fee from $5 to $7 after the first 800 tickets are issued in a month from one camera.

At the end of 2014, the city had brought in more than $600,000 in revenue after expenses via the speed cameras, though increased costs could lower future takes.

New cameras at school zones throughout town have increased the number of tickets getting mailed out every year, none more than the Mark Morris zone along 15th Avenue. More than half of last year’s 10,000 tickets stemmed from drivers going faster than 20 mph near Mark Morris.

Though numbers aren’t available, another surge in recent tickets stems from the city’s recent decision to lower the “buffer zone” beyond 20 mph in which drivers don’t get a ticket.

Another $150,000 from the fund was tentatively earmarked for school zone safety improvements during a recent Council workshop.

Also at the 7 p.m. meeting Thursday at City Hall, 1525 Broadway, the Council will proclaim Thursday as Cody Wells Day in honor of the regular audience member and participant at Council meetings.

Wells is leaving for Lewis County, and the Council wanted to mark his volunteerism and dedication to the community.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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