BROOKSVILLE — The on-again, off-again effort to use cameras to catch red-light running drivers on city streets is back on again.
Council members voted 3-2 on Monday night to enter into a contract with a vendor to install 20 cameras at an undetermined number of intersections that could net the city more than $1 million a year if projections are met.
According to City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha, the company will begin installing the cameras in March and plans to have them operational sometime in May.
Under the terms of the contract, Miami-based Sensys America would split the proceeds with the city up to $4,500 per month per camera.
Under a new state law, violators now get a $158 ticket when cameras catch them running a red-light.
The host entity receives $75, and the state takes $85. Right turns on a red light are no longer eligible for citations; previously, those had made up the majority of offenses recorded by Brooksville's cameras.
Based on company projection figures from Norman-Vacha, if each camera recorded an average four traffic infractions per day — or 14,400 infractions in a six-month period — it would generate $1.08 million, leaving the city and Sensys to each get $540,000 after expenses.
As expected, council newcomer Kevin Hohn cast the deciding vote.
Council member Joe Bernardini and Mayor Frankie Burnett opposed the cameras, while council member Lara Bradburn and Vice Mayor Joe Johnston supported them.
Red-light cameras have been something of a political football with city officials. Originally installed in 2008, they were removed last year after the city was unable to come to terms with the vendor.
Brooksville attorney Joe Mason, who has long opposed the cameras, criticized council members Monday for not providing research to justify whether they had made streets safer. He referred to the camera vendors as resorting to "pixie dust" to make them seem more than just a revenue generator.
"If you're going to make a decision, make it by the facts, not by the salesmanship," Mason said.
Former council member Richard Lewis said he felt that re-installing the cameras would chase away visitors and businesses wanting to move to the city.
"No one wants to come to a place they think is after their wallet," Lewis said.
Hohn said he wasn't interested in how much revenue the cameras generated, and proposed that the council consider using any income from the cameras for business development and capital improvements, such as roads and sidewalks.
In other action, the council voted 3-2 to allow beer sales at the Quarry Golf Course, which is being leased by Bob Carson, who owns and operates Ridge Manor Oaks Golf and Country Club.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]