Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Red-light camera program under review in New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips wants the city to consider pulling the plug on its red-light cameras.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, Phillips directed the city staff to report back on the costs of doing away with the cameras. A couple of residents had spoken up and asserted that New Port Richey's red-light program isn't about safety. Instead, they said, it's a money grab.

Phillips said he wants to look at the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that runs the program, to see if there would be a financial penalty for pulling out. This year the city allotted $553,000 in the budget to pay ATS.

"I just want to see what the exit cost would be. I think we need to recognize there are constituencies on both sides here," Phillips said in the meeting.

He later told the Times he wants the report to be part of budget submissions this summer so the council can see all options. He also wants a detailed look at crash statistics in the city in order to examine safety concerns that have been raised.

"I just think it's the perfect time to look at the whole program in its entirety so we can see where we are," he said.

In May, finance director Doug Haag reported the city faces an $800,000 shortfall of projected revenue from the cameras. Officials expected to reap $1.15 million from the seven cameras but are only looking at about $350,000.

The shortage is due to fewer violations and a backlog of red-light citations in county court, Haag said. Backlogs have been a problem statewide, and Gov. Rick Scott recently signed a law mandating cities create a special magistrate system to allow motorists another avenue to appeal their tickets.

On Tuesday, the council adopted an ordinance establishing its special magistrate system, which led resident Alexander Snitker to question whether a magistrate hired by the city could be impartial. He said he fears "people will unfairly be levied fines and taxes."

Assistant city attorney Jim Lang said motorists who receive red-light tickets can still contest their citations in county court.

Former council candidate Michael Malterer — who made opposing the cameras a cornerstone of his campaign in April — called on the council to end the program. In an interview Wednesday, he said he welcomed Phillips' call for talks, but is still considering a petition drive to take the issue to a vote in April.

"At some point we have to have a real conversation about this," Malterer said.

Red-light camera program under review in New Port Richey 06/19/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 7:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. These two documents illustrate how Florida has made it harder to access inspection reports of nursing homes, heavily censoring what the public can see. In the foreground is a document obtained from a federal agency that details the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where 10 patients died after Hurricane Irma. Behind it is the state's version of the same document, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]
  2. Amber Alert canceled after Bradenton siblings found in Alabama

    Public Safety

    An Amber Alert was canceled early Friday morning for four Bradenton siblings who were taken by their mother, who authorities said does not have custody of the children.

    An Amber Alert has been issued for four Bradenton siblings who were taken by their mother, who does not have custody of the children. [Florida Department of Law Enforcement]

  3. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation

    Blogs

    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  5. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay

    Health

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]