New Port Richey balks at red light camera bills

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Citing declining revenue from its red light cameras, New Port Richey has decided not to pay two months of its bills to the system's operators.

At a meeting Tuesday, the City Council voted to pay Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions its bill for July of more than $45,000 but told City Manager Debbie Manns to not pay the city's August and September bills until a meeting with the company can be held to discuss declining revenue from the cameras. Manns told the council she believes ATS is in breach of its contract.

"They are anxious for a meeting," Manns said of ATS.

Manns said that due to an oversight the city had not paid its July bill, and upon a review of its contract with ATS she concluded that promised revenues were not being met. She then asked for a meeting with the company prior to paying the bills for August and September, she said.

"We wanted them to take us seriously," Manns said.

City council member Bill Phillips, long a vocal critic of the program, called the city's red light program "broken."

In 2013, the city passed a budget estimating $1.15 million in revenue, but later projections estimated the cameras would only pull in around $580,000. Phillips wanted to consider pulling the plug early on the program, but the contract with ATS runs through 2016.

"I think it's time to draw a line in the sand," he said this week.

In other news, the council unanimously voted to negotiate an estimated $255,000 contract with the firm Kimley-Horn to do design improvements to Sims Park. The project includes construction of a new playground and implementation of shade structures.

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