NEW PORT RICHEY — The City Council has taken the first step toward installing red-light cameras across New Port Richey.
Council members voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to proceed with researching how, where and when to install the cameras, with Mayor Scott McPherson and Judy DeBella Thomas dissenting.
In the past the council had given little support for the contentious program. But at a budget hearing last month, members spoke of the cameras as a way to make their roads safer and generate new revenue in their dwindling budget.
Interim police Chief Jeff Harrington said the city could, based on vendors' estimates, earn $500,000 a year per intersection in fines.
Harrington pointed to state transportation records that rank New Port Richey among the five worst cities of its size for crashes resulting in injuries or deaths, alcohol-related crashes and crashes involving pedestrians. The cameras, he said, could reduce crashes and allow police a better use of manpower.
If the city approves the cameras during a second reading of the ordinance later this month, officials will begin to consider which contractor and intersections will be involved. State law enacted last month requires red-light tickets to cost $158 — $75 for the city and $83 for the state.
Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County operate similar camera programs. On Monday, Brooksville leaders voted to put a stop to their camera program after a public outcry.