Brooksville votes to end controversial red-light camera program

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BROOKSVILLE — Red-light cameras will soon be just a memory in Brooksville.

The City Council voted 3-1 Monday night to bring the controversial saga to an end when the contract with the vendor runs out — likely in December, although there might be some dispute about the date.

Since the cameras returned to Brooksville in 2012, council members have heard a litany of complaints from residents and business owners who argued that the cameras have turned away business, given the city a bad reputation and caused accidents rather than stopping them.

"I want you to listen to what the people want,'' said former council member Joe Bernardini, ''and they don't want this.''

"I just don't see where it's helping any business here,'' said Greg Stephens, owner of Saxon Manor and the former Christmas House.

Brooksville lawyer Peyton Hyslop, who has successfully represented numerous red-light ticket recipients, said it was time to end the program.

"These cameras are not what our American system of justice is about,'' Hyslop said. "Do away with that portion of my revenue and your portion of revenue that comes from these red-light cameras.''

"It is time to be rid of the red-light cameras, which have been negative marketing for Brooksville,'' newly elected City Council member Betty Erhard said. "The people have spoken, and I implore the council to hear the people and terminate the contract.''

New council member Robert Battista, a lawyer, suggested that instead of ending the contract immediately, it would be better to simply let the contract run out. He also suggested that, in the interim, the council should increase the speed limit allowed for right turns on red from 5 to 10 mph — a change that will have to be made at a later date.

Council member Natalie Kahler said she wasn't opposed to cameras. The city's job is to enforce traffic laws, and the city chose to use red-light cameras to do that, she said. She was the lone vote against the motion to not renew the contract.

In the current fiscal year, the red-light cameras are projected to generate $2.3 million. After paying the state and the vendor's portions, Brooksville projects that, after paying staff to review the camera results, the city will realize nearly $400,000 in revenue.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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