Red light cameras in Greenville 7

Red light cameras like the ones at Fire Tower Road and Arlington Boulevard remain operational as a court battle continues.

The North Carolina Supreme Court last week issued a temporary stay preventing the enforcement of an appellate court ruling against a red-light camera program in Greenville.

Attorneys representing the City of Greenville and Pitt County Board of Education sought the temporary stay while the state’s top court considers their motion for a writ of supersedeas, which would extend the stay for a longer period, giving attorneys for the city and school board time to appeal the lower court ruling.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, the people who sued the city and school board, opposed the stay. They argued if a writ of supersedeas is issued then the City of Greenville needs to stop issuing citations generated by the red-light camera program or a suitable amount of money needs to be put in escrow to ensure the school system gets 90 percent of the revenue from the fines or it is used to repay people who received tickets.

The city and school board’s petition was filed on March 29 and the court issued the temporary stay on March 30. The plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a response on March 31.

The state Court of Appeals on March 15 ruled the red-light camera program is unconstitutional because not enough of the money generated through the payment of tickets stayed with the local school system.

The court said the program funding arrangement violated the state constitution which said revenue from fines must be “used exclusively for maintaining free public schools.”

The City of Greenville implemented the camera program in late 2017 to ticket drivers who drove through red lights, requiring violators to pay a $100 civil fee. The city attempted a similar effort years earlier but it ended when a court ruling said that all revenue from the tickets had to go to the school system as outlined in the state constitution.

In the new program, which followed rules approved by the General Assembly in 2016, all money from the tickets would go to the school system which in turn would pay the city and its contractor for operating the camera system.

In March, the appellate court said at least 90 percent of the money collected through the red light camera program had to stay with the school system but in the two years since Greenville’s program was implemented 72 percent of the revenue stayed with the school system.

Contact Ginger Livingston at or 252-329-9570.