Council puts brakes on red light cameras
Hernando TodayThe issue: Brooksville City Council suspends red light camera tickets. Our opinion: Suspend program permanently.
Published: June 25, 2010
Published: June 25, 2010
Brooksville City Council members are starting to realize red light cameras are more about the money than increased safety - an arguable consequence of the Big Brother devices.
Now that the state has gotten into the act, cities like Brooksville will see their red light camera cash plummet, while the state takes a big cut of the ill-gotten booty for basically doing nothing.
It's a piggyback shakedown, a new tax, a money grab to help supplement the state's diminishing coffers.
On Monday, council members' action on a vendor agreement resulted in the suspension of the city's red light camera program, which includes the threatening con(trap)tions at five of its most accident-prone intersections.
That it's "all about the money" has become more obvious since the Legislature passed its version. The new state law, which goes into effect July 1, tacks on an additional $33 to the city's $125 tickets, making it a $158 fine.
Then, the state grabs $83, leaving the rest to be split by the city and the private vendor partnering with the city.
Had the proposed vendor agreement been approved, Brooksville would have only received $37.50 for each infraction after July 1. That's a far cry from the $85 it used to get. In the first six months of this year, the city pulled in nearly $500,000 in red light camera tickets.
That's what commonly is referred to as a revenue stream. That stream will begin to dry up July 1.
In addition to the state taking a bigger cut, the red light camera law redefines right-on-red violations. As long as the driver is "prudent and cautious," it's OK to turn right on a red light without fully stopping at the intersection - unless a cop catches you.
For Brooksville, that's a revenue drain. As much as 60 percent of the city's tickets are issued to those who turn right on red lights without coming to a full stop.
Vice Mayor Richard Lewis summed up the issue well: "I will admit people have changed their driving habits since these cameras have been implemented. But I feel like now it's more about generating revenue and that we've already become reliant on them."
Council members may decide at their next meeting July 19 whether to continue the city's contract with its vendor. Is $37.50 really worth all of the hassle and negativity?
The city needs to suspend the program indefinitely and have the police monitor the city's most dangerous intersections.