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. Man dies after losing control of pickup in Dade City

    Accidents

    Times staff

    DADE CITY — A man died Friday after he lost control of his pickup truck through a bend in the road and collided with an oncoming car, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Teens recorded drowning man and laughed, but face no charges

    Criminal

    Authorities say a group of teens who watched, laughed and made a video as a man drowned in a retention pond can be charged with failure to report a death.

    Jamel Dunn, 31, drowned July 9 in Cocoa.
  3. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  4. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  5. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]