BROOKSVILLE — The numbers tell a story that pleases Brooksville officials: The city's red light cameras not only have made streets safer, but also have made the city good money.
Indeed, during the six-month period between November and April, the city issued 5,477 red light camera citations. After paying the camera vendor its share of the fees, the city stood to net a whopping $465,545.
It was easy money, for sure. But had the state's new red light camera law been in effect, it would have been less — a lot less — money. In fact, the city would have collected less than 40 percent of that cash, thanks largely to a provision in the new law that allows drivers to safely make rolling right-hand turns without stopping.
On Monday, the City Council will consider its options when a proposed amendment is presented to bring Brooksville's current red-light camera ordinance in line with the state statute.
The statute, which goes into effect July 1, will cover all five of the city's red light cameras. Under the statute, fees for violations will rise from $125 to $158. But the city won't benefit from the increase. Instead, it will get only $75 from each citation — $10 less than it currently receives — with the state receiving the rest.
According to a memorandum from the city's assistant attorney, Jennifer Rey, the city also wants to renegotiate its contract with American Traffic Solutions of Arizona, the camera-operating company, which currently receives $40 for each citation issued. Although city officials have met with ATS representatives, an agreement regarding the contract hasn't been reached. Rey said signing on with a new camera vendor remains a possibility.
The state's red light camera statute does have some ambiguities. Drivers will not be fined if cameras catch them "rolling" through an intersection when turning right, as long as they do it in a "cautious and prudent" manner, not exceeding 5 mph.
But what is allowable under the state's red light camera statute doesn't exactly square with its existing vehicle traffic codes, Brooksville Police Chief George Turner said. A citation issued through the program is a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket. However, if a police officer observed the same infraction, the punishment could be a lot more severe.
"It's a $258 fine, plus four points on your license," Turner said.
Turner praised the red light program, saying the city has seen a 35 percent reduction in traffic accidents since its implementation in 2008.
"It's made a noticeable difference," he said. "I'd like to see it continue."
Logan Neill can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1435.