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Brooksville City Council to revisit red light cameras

BROOKSVILLE — Like a persistent vampire, whether the city will have red light cameras is an issue that never quite seems to die.

A year after voting to remove them, the scofflaw-catching cameras will be back before the City Council on Monday as the board reviews a proposal by a Miami-based company that wants to install the devices at intersections.

The issue may well fall along the same divides as before, with council member Joe Bernardini and Mayor Frankie Burnett against and council members Joe Johnston and Lara Bradburn in favor.

The wild card Monday may be freshman council member Kevin Hohn, who wasn't around during the earlier debates. Hohn said Thursday that he favors reinstating the cameras.

"To me, it all comes down to making the city safer," he said. "I'm in favor of that, even if we don't make a dime from the cameras."

Although the city would still make money from red light cameras, the deal isn't likely to be as lucrative as it once was. A state law last year raised the cost of violations from $125 to $158, but the state now gets $83 for every citation. The remaining $75 is split between the city and the camera vendor.

Under the proposed deal, Sensys America will earn a maximum of $4,500 each month from every camera it installs. The company and the city will split the revenue raised from citations issued through each camera up to $9,000 per month.

Any month the company's share of the revenue is below $4,500, the shortage must be made up in later months when revenues top $9,000.

In February, then-member Emory Pierce, Bradburn and Johnston expressed interest in reinstalling the cameras at the five city intersections that had them until the council voted to remove them last fall.

Over the 23 months they were in use, the cameras provided a steady revenue stream, earning the city $563,000, according to figures provided by finance director Steve Baumgartner. Police Chief George Turner said he favored the cameras because he said they had reduced traffic accidents.

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said it's difficult to predict how much money the city could make because the number of intersections that company will want to install the cameras has not been determined.

Bernardini said Thursday that he will oppose the cameras because he feels they hurt the city's image.

"We've been over this again and again," Bernardini said. "The others can say it's all about making streets safer, but I don't see it. Yes, we'll make some money, but at what will it cost us in the long run?"

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

Brooksville City Council to revisit red light cameras 09/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:19pm]
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