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Hernando commission orders removal of Brooksville red-light cameras at two intersections

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission has long grumbled about Brooksville's red-light cameras.

On Tuesday, commissioners took action.

At the urging of Commissioner Jim Adkins, the board voted unanimously to do whatever is necessary to take down the red-light cameras at the two intersections in the city that the county controls — Wiscon Road at Broad Street and Cobb Road at Jefferson Street.

In addition, commissioners directed county staffers to inform city leaders that they are reluctant to renew an interlocal agreement whereby the county maintains all of the city's traffic signals.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell said the point of the message was to "express our displeasure'' with the cameras, which have been controversial from the start.

The Brooksville City Council was slated to talk about red-light cameras and the revenue they produce during a workshop Tuesday evening.

Brooksville Mayor Lara Bradburn said Tuesday afternoon that she had not heard about the county's action.

"Wow,'' Bradburn said. "Since this proposal involves potential legal action, I probably shouldn't say anything until I speak to the attorneys.''

Currently, there are 13 cameras at five intersections in the city. They are at Broad Street and Wiscon Road, Cobb Road and Jefferson Street, Jefferson and Broad, Cortez and Broad and at Broad and Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard.

During a discussion Tuesday about the county's interlocal agreement with Brooksville and Weeki Wachee regarding traffic-light maintenance, Adkins asked several questions of Brian Malmberg, the assistant county administrator for operations.

Malmberg confirmed that the Wiscon at Broad and Cobb at Jefferson intersections are maintained by the county.

Adkins asked whether county permission should have been sought before those cameras were installed, and County Attorney Garth Coller said he was unaware of any agreements the county had reached with the city to allow the cameras.

"I would like to get rid of all the red-light cameras,'' said Commissioner Nick Nicholson.

The commission agreed to have County Administrator Len Sossamon work with Coller to accomplish the removal of the cameras from the two intersections, and Adkins noted: "And have it done by tomorrow.''

Malmberg explained that the county receives about $22,000 a year from the state Department of Transportation through the city for maintenance of the traffic lights inside the city limits.

Adkins said that the City Council will have to discuss whether it wants to form its own traffic signal maintenance department or continue to allow the county to do the work after hearing the commission's concerns about the intersections with cameras.

"I'm on board,'' Russell said.

"I'm on board,'' said Commissioner Diane Rowden. "We're all on board here.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

In other business

The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday:

• Approved a settlement agreement with the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority concerning the change in the name of the Hernando airport. Hernando officials have agreed to change the name from Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport to Brooksville Tampa Bay Regional Airport and to several other provisions. The Hillsborough authority had sued after the initial name change, claiming trademark infringement over "Tampa" and "Airport." Hillsborough officials are expected to consider the settlement on Friday.

• Agreed to give Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson $47,725 out of county reserves to enable her to balance her office's budget. Anderson's predecessor, Annie Williams, overspent the budget by $136,890, and Anderson has used some grant funding and made some spending cuts to make up most of that. Williams said in a letter to the commission that the long ballot and the large number of early and absentee voters drove up her costs. Anderson also noted that Williams had failed to budget for $34,130 in compensatory, vacation and sick time due as employees left their jobs.

• Delayed until March 12 a final public hearing on an ordinance to allow chickens in certain residential areas. Carol Aquilante, the Spring Hill resident who has pushed for the ordinance, again urged the commission on Tuesday to support it. Some local builders and Realtors voiced concerns about the impact on property values.

• Approved an increase in the communications tax, which is charged consumers on their phone bills. The increase is estimated to cost 40 cents for a $100 phone bill, and the proceeds will be used for a new radio system for law enforcement, fire and other county departments.

• Approved a change in hours for county Animal Services, which will now be open on Saturdays to better serve working people. The new hours will be from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday. The shelter will be closed Sunday and Monday. An open house is planned at the shelter for March 9.

Hernando commission orders removal of Brooksville red-light cameras at two intersections 02/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 8:05pm]
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