BROOKSVILLE — The big issue in Brooksville used to be whether red-light cameras would go; now the question is whether they will be gone forever.
Three months ago, a Brooksville City Council with several lame-duck members agreed not to renew the city's contract with its red-light camera vendor, and leaving the long-term decision to newly elected members.
More recently, residents successfully pushed a petition that calls for adding a permanent ban on cameras to the city's charter. In a special meeting today at 7 p.m. at City Hall, council members will gather to discuss the petition with city staff.
Last week, the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office certified 536 signatures on petitions that were submitted by a Brooksville political action committee eager to put the red-light camera question before city voters. The number of verified signatures was about 60 more than was required.
The cameras have come under increasing fire by critics who feel they are unnecessary and unfair to motorists because of the uneven enforcement of the law governing them. For the past several months opponents of the cameras have been gathering signatures along street corners and at events held within the city limits.
Proponents of the cameras, including City Council member Kevin Hohn, argue that the devices have made streets safer and have helped the city fund road projects and safety measures.
Hohn said Monday that he had not yet read the petition, but was looking forward to tonight's meeting to listen to opinions of the city's legal staff and others. "Any time you're going to change the city charter you need to know if that change is going to be legal," Hohn said.
Council member Joe Bernardini, a staunch camera opponent, said that he hopes citizens will show up to voice their opinions.
"I think it's time to have all of our questions answered," Bernardini said.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.