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Brooksville extends contract to new special code master

BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council voted unanimously Monday night to extend a one-year contract to Brooksville attorney Kenneth Warnstadt to serve as its new special master to hear code and ordinance violations.

Warnstadt, 59, has served six years as special master for Hernando County government for various code and ordinance issues, and will replace outgoing city special master Bill Eppley.

Eppley resigned two weeks ago, complaining in his resignation letter that the city's new red-light camera program and loud car stereo ordinance were being subjectively enforced and carried what he considered excessive fines.

With Warnstadt, the city got a bit of a price break. He will be paid $150 an hour with a two-hour minimum, and will hear cases one day a month. Eppley earned $200 an hour for his services.

As with Eppley, part of Warnstadt's duties will be to hear appeals for citations given for red-light violations captured on cameras that were installed last past spring at four intersections in the city. A joint venture between the city and American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz., the program has been a proven revenue generator that is expected to raise about $800,000 for Brooksville this year.

A violators whose cars is photographed running a red light is sent a $125 citation in the mail, but is not charged with a moving violation. Eppley criticized the program, saying it seemed more designed to fill city coffers than promote public safety, as city officials have promoted it.

An early analysis by the city found that about 70 percent of the citations were issued to drivers who had failed to come to a complete stop before making a right turn.

Eppley also found fault with the city's car stereo ordinance that provides for fines up to $750 for repeat violations, saying it was often subjectively enforced by police officers.

Warnstadt, a lawyer with 21 years of experience, has served as attorney for the town of Yankeetown.

In other business, the council adopted an ordinance requiring permits for large bonfires or fireworks displays at public venues. The ordinance doesn't affect backyard barbecues and small bonfires on private property.

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

Brooksville extends contract to new special code master 10/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2009 9:25pm]
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