Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Red-light cameras sticking in Hillsborough County

TAMPA — Red-light cameras were scuttled in St. Petersburg and dragged into a political battle in Tampa, but they're not going anywhere in unincorporated Hillsborough County.

County commissioners affirmed their support for the cameras during a discussion Wednesday prompted by recent votes to end them in Tampa Bay's two biggest cities.

"This is a cost-effective public safety tool we can use to save lives on our roads," said Commissioner Kevin Beckner. "To suggest otherwise would be inaccurate."

St. Petersburg's council killed the cameras there, effective in September, because they aren't projected to pay for themselves this year. Tampa's council voted to end them in the city because members didn't like how the money was being spent, but that vote is likely to be reversed.

Neither of those fates likely await Hills­borough's camera program. The cameras pay for themselves, bringing in about $1.7 million annually while costing the county about $576,000. And commissioners do not have problems with where the money goes — into the general fund, where it helps pay for things like the Sheriff's Office, Fire Rescue and parks. The city of Tampa has previously used its money the same way.

Hillsborough's program is smaller than either of the city programs, with 10 cameras at six intersections. St. Petersburg has 22 cameras at 10 intersections; Tampa has 51 at 21 intersections.

While the cameras do generate money, commissioners said they support them because they make intersections safer.

"The goal of this program is simply to save lives," Commissioner Ken Hagan said.

Hillsborough County sheriff's Col. Greg Brown spoke at Wednesday's meeting at the request of Commissioner Les Miller. After three fatalities between 2006 and 2008 at the intersections where cameras were installed in 2009, there has been none since, and citations have gone down every year, Brown told commissioners.

"Driver behavior is changing," Brown said.

Miller asked if the county should add more cameras. The Sheriff's Office considers that every year, Brown said, but it hasn't recommended an expansion yet. The county's contract with American Traffic Solution is up for renewal in December.

Brown pointed out the Sheriff's Office ignored a recommendation by American Traffic Solution that would have brought in more money — ticketing every driver who rolls through a right-on-red. Hills­borough tickets only drivers who make rights on red at 15 mph or faster, Brown said.

For each $158 citation, $75 goes to the county, while $83 goes to the state. American Traffic Solutions gets a set fee of about $48,000 per month regardless of the number of citations.

"This was not designed as a moneymaking thing, but a public safety event," Brown said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]

Comments

High school scoreboard for Jan. 17

Wednesday’s scoreboardBoys basketballBoca Ciega 62, Clearwater 52Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Dunedin 0Girls soccerPalm Harbor U. 5, Dunedin 0
Updated: 3 hours ago
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘giant’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from her...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

On warmer nights, Jerry Hardison can sleep for a few hours at the recycling center. He works 11-hour shifts there. He gets off at 2:30 a.m., then waits until the buses start running again.But not Wednesday."Getting out that time of the morning in the...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the United States that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Michigan father deported after three decades in community; AIDS crusader Mathlide Kim dies; more in U.S. news

Michigan father deported after three decades in community; AIDS crusader Mathlide Kim dies; more in U.S. news

Michigan This was his home for 30 years, then ICE forced dad from familyWith two immigration agents hovering nearby, Jorge Garcia pulled his wife and their 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son close for a final hug at the Detroit airport. Soon af...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 7 hours ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

AustraliaWallaby infiltrates Sydney bridgeA wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit. The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to b...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 8 hours ago