On April 25, the Nueces County Tax Assessor Collector's Office began declining all motor vehicle registrations renewals for county residents who owe red-light camera ticket violations of $75 or more.

The Corpus Christi Safe Traffic Operations Program mailed more than 12,000 letters to red-light violators, warning them that their registration would not be renewed until the fines were paid.

According to statistics provided by the Corpus Christi Police Department, there are currently more than 13,000 unresolved red light camera violations linked to vehicles registered in Nueces County, totaling about $2 million in unpaid fines.

Captain Jerry Vesely, with the Corpus Christi Police Department's Traffic Bureau, said the amount in unpaid fines has a direct impact on the city's ability to fund traffic-related safety measures.

Vesely said the City of Corpus Christi pays a certain amount for the red-light camera, whether the camera is used to collect one ticket or 10,000 tickets.

In addition to equipment expenses, the city is also required by state law to send half of the funds collected to the state to help fund rural trauma centers.

"So if you have a serious accident in a less developed area, you'll know that you'll have a trauma center that will be prepared to handle it. It helps fund those, which are a vitally important endeavor to fund. It is also used for city traffic related events," Vesely said.

"The biggest expenditure is our crossing guards, so our children will be able to cross to school safely. So when we don't have that money, the city isn't able to send as much money to the state for trauma centers and the city has to come up with paying for city crossing guards out of the city budget."

Vehicle owners with unpaid red-light camera fines can mail their payments to:

Corpus Christi STOP! Payment Center, PO Box 76907, Cleveland, OH 44101-6500 or call (361) 887-0481, or toll free at (877) 887-0841.

Vesely said the money also goes to traffic related items such as speed bumps and traffic safety equipment for city employees. He said in recent days, there has been a noticeable upswing in the number of people coming in to pay their red-light camera fines. Vesely said the majority of violators owe just one or two tickets.

Individuals pay a $75 fine and a $25 late fee in order to be cleared to receive their motor vehicle registration renewals. Vesely said there are a handful of others who have more than two infractions, including at least one area resident that has 26 unpaid violations.

The CCPD began the red-light program with their first camera in April 2007 and since that time, has expanded to 13 red-light cameras in operation. They are located in various parts of Corpus Christi, from the intersection of Cimarron and Yorktown, all the way out to Greenwood, Vesely said.

The cameras issue an average of over 2,000 violations a month combined, he added.