City won’t renew red-light camera contract
MONROE - The City Council decided to terminate its contract with red-light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems.
The City Council voted 4 to 2 to send Redflex a formal letter saying the city wouldn’t be renewing its contract, which expires at the end of the year.
The contract was signed in September 2007 and would have needed to be renewed this year for the program to continue.
Councilman Kurt Goering initiated the agenda topic at a previous council meeting. Goering said the city has been “vindicated through the appeal process and it’s time to move on to the next chapter” by getting rid of photo-enforcement of traffic violations.
The state Court of Appeals recently sided with the city, ruling that the decision to use red-light cameras lies with the local legislative body and isn’t subject to a citizen initiative.
Residents gathered enough signatures to put the cameras up to an advisory vote and in November, 70 percent of voters said they didn’t want the city to use red-light cameras.
“Ultimately, we’re here to listen to what the people tell us and represent them,” Goering said. “Seven out of 10 voted to say let’s put an end to this.”
Councilman Tom Williams, who was one of the two dissenting votes, said he was skeptical of the timing to terminate the unpopular program.
“This looks more like a re-election ploy to me,” Williams said. “The timing seems a bit suspect.”
Mayor Robert Zimmerman, Goering, Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback, Williams and Councilman Kevin Hanford are all up for re-election this fall.
Both Williams and Cudaback, the other dissenting vote, said they’d appreciate more information from the Police Department and from the Monroe School District on how they feel the cameras have affected traffic and public safety.
The City Council was supposed to hear from the Police Department about the performance of the traffic cameras including number of tickets issued and the financial impact to the budget.
“I’m not sure what the rush is to do this,” Williams said. “Not hearing from those groups doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”
Each traffic infraction issued by a red-light camera costs the driver $124, Police Department spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.
Revenue generated through camera enforcement totaled $55,000 in 2011 and more than $612,000 in 2012.
The department used $15,000 from camera revenue to pay for experts to help in the 2012 Maple Street homicide investigation of a 59-year-old Monroe woman found dead in her backyard. The case remains unsolved. The department used $150,000 in ticket revenue to buy four new patrol cars.
There are speeding cameras outside Fryelands and Frank Wagner elementaries and red-light cameras at the intersection of U.S. 2 and North Kelsey Street.
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