The Palm Coast City Council on Tuesday appeared ready to end its current contract with American Traffic Solutions in 2017, two years earlier than the city’s original contract with ATS stipulated.
The city would also reduce all operating cameras from 43 to just five. But it would also see its revenue per camera drop, from the current $700 per month to $350 per month. The city’s revenue from the cameras would drop from $361,000 to $21,000.
The council hasn’t formalized those decisions: it will do so at a council meeting either next week or later this month, and there is a small chance that terms of the contract amendments may change between now and then.
ATS had initially asked that if the contract was to be reduced to 2017, the city would be stripped of all revenue. The council wanted to reduce the term and preserve the full $700. That, City Manager Jim Landon told the council, was like “getting something for nothing.” But ATS agreed in negotiations with Landon and City Attorney Bill Reischmann to cut its demand in half.
“They pretty much met us half-way,” council member Heidi Shipley said.
But to continue the program, Palm Coast employees will have to pick up a significant portion of the work ATS was doing to date, and that a Florida appeal court declared illegal. The court ruled that only a government agency may issue traffic violations that convert to court-issued tickets, not a private company like ATS. ATS may issue the first “Notice of Violation,” which is a citation issued under the city’;s code enforcement department. The cpourt has no issue with that step. But if a driver refuses to pay, the ticket turns into a “Uniform TYraffic Citation” under the court system. That’s the part only a government agency may handle.
Currently, Palm Coast and ATS have suspended the issuance of Uniform Traffic Citations, which means that if drivers refuse to pay their initial $158 notice of violation, they will not be pursued: the ticket will go away, enabling drivers essentially to ignore such tickets. But that will soon change as the issuance of violations will transfer to Palm Coast. Palm Coast administration has agreed to pick up that burden. Landon says the work load for the staff will be about the same as it was when the city was handling 43 cameras.
The reduction of the cameras and the amended contract in no way alters another reality for the city: ATS and Palm Coast, along with 30 cities that have such cameras, have been sued. The class-action lawsuit will be costing Palm Coast money, both in legal costs and in whatever settlement or judgment results from the lawsuit. To the council, the question was: who will defend Palm Coast in the suit?
Where Cameras Would Remain
ATS has agreed to defend Palm Coast and the other cities. That offer is part of the battered company’s attempts to preserve as much of its business as possible.
The city council had explored fully suspending its contract with ATS. But ATS threatened a lawsuit against the city. The council asked how much it would cost the city to sever the contract. Landon said ATS would ask for at least $1.8 million.
Until 2012, the city could have pulled out of the contract without cause: the city’s original contract with ATS had included just such a clause. But when Landon negotiated amendments in 2012, the amendments that expanded the cameras’ numbers from 10 to 43, the termination-without-cause clause was eliminated–without council discussion on the matter. That’s what’s keeping Palm Coast from dropping the program altogether now.
For all that, Palm Coast’s attorney, William Reischmann, said the legal environment regarding the cameras is “muddled” at the moment, with a lot of uncertainties ahead.
“So we are stuck with 2017 as a best-case scenario,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said.
ted bundy says
going to be funny when all you people are getting more expensive tickets and points on your license when the cameras are gone..heh heh heh..
What a sad state of affairs that because of a group of people that want to drive any way they feel like, disrespect the rules and other people’s lives, are being catered to by removing the red light cameras. Palm Coast will be seeing way more accidents and innocent people will get hurt by these idiots. Perhaps a family member or friend of these people will be a victim of a reckless driver because the driver will be able to run lights, or whizz around corners, without consequence and might not have done that if the cameras were in place. Perhaps one of those anti camera people will be in an accident that was caused by someone else but there were no cameras to point out who was at fault.
The state got involved and took a huge chunk of money. This results in multi millions of dollars the state collected from the cities and towns. Once most of that dries up it wouldn’t surprise me if the state changed it’s mind and promoted the use of traffic cameras.
There are other cities that are actually adding more cameras as well as cities that are getting rid of them.
tulip there r studies that these cameras do not help with less accidents. In fact they may cause more because people slamming on there breaks trying not to run these lights. Why does a small town like Palm Coast need 43 of these stupid things. Its all about money…
Drive Safe says
Too many people think that when the light turns yellow, they are supose to speed up to beat it…FYI when it turns yellow- STOP and you will not get a ticket!!
john mac says
This whole red light camera thing was a scam from the start. Hiding under the issue of safety. I would compare it to peeing on my leg and telling me its raining. Egg on your faces for rushing into to the money rainbow and getting it right back in your face.
Root Cause says
Red Light Cameras (RLCs) have ruined everything about this town over greed! PC was once a nice retirement/bed side community. Many potential home buyers have turned their cheek on PC due to the gauntlet of RLCs. Yea, some homes continue to sell at lower rate than neighboring communities, and also attract Section 8 Renters. PC is the next N. JAX or Holly Hell, and the root cause is the RLCs!
Again Landon is the root cause of the problem, in 2012 he saw a great financial oppertunity, add more cameras and go from $7,000 a month to $30,000 a month. And he was dumb enough to negotiate a 7 year deal with penalties for early dismissal, but Netts loves him. This has and always will be a money making scheme put in place to help raise city revenue. Come on Mayor and City Manger explain it like Hillary did yesterday, lie through your teeth and tell us you did nothing wrong. Honestly government wonders why their approval ratings are in the crapper, well wake up and look at how dishonest you politicians look everytime you speak.
Because I Can says
Red light cameras were never legal, you have the right to confront your accuser….a real person. The cameras have increased the number of rear end accidents in the county because of people slamming on their breaks in fear of a ticket. If you are half way through the intersection when the light turns red, you have not committed an offense, by state statute. Drivers stopped at a right light need to take a breath, look at traffic approaching to make sure they have stopped before proceeding, this would save them injury if there’s someone speeding through a red light.
As for the person above, what a miserable life you must have to wish harm to innocent people. Shame on you.
George Murphy says
You know a few years ago a candidate was elected Governor in Virginia in a landslide. How? He promised to do away with the hated Personal Property Tax on cars, boats, and campers. After the election the hitch was they couldn’t afford to do it all at once because the localities couldn’t afford to loose such a big part of their budgeted revenue stream. So guess what? They phased it out. Since the average annual bill for a new car was over 1,000, and most families had three vehicles or more; most families were overjoyed at the first two phased reductions. BUT, Sad to say this happy tale had a sad ending when the controlling party lost power, and the Virginia Personal Property Tax managed to hang on. How many phases are in the those two years and what conditions apply for the last of those camers to go?
Those lights are set up to catch people. I leave for work early in the morning and find the light at the intersection of Belle Terre and PC Pkwy almost always turns red just as I’m coming up to it even without any cross traffic waiting. So my choice becomes to either speed up to make it through the yellow or come to a rather abrupt stop and wait for the next cycle. If there’s a car behind me I’ll push through the light or I’ll more than likely end up in one of those accidents that happen more now because of those cameras… rear ended.
Don’t kid yourselves, those cameras weren’t set up for safety or to keep people doing the right thing by not running red lights. They were set up as a money maker for the city.
2 different people flew through red lights because they knew there wasnt a camera. Its going to be chaos if they remove them. Heres a hint to not get a ticket, don’t break the law. If you stop and get a ticket they will remove it otherwise you flew through a red light. Or if it turns red and you cant stop in time than you were speeding. Each yellow light is timed with the speed.
“But when Landon negotiated amendments in 2012, the amendments that expanded the cameras’ numbers from 10 to 43, the termination-without-cause clause was eliminated–without council discussion on the matter.” Was he authorized to change the terms of the contract or did he act ultra vires? At any rate, that a’int no way to run a railroad (or city).
James C. Walker says
The latest state report on the cameras did NOT include the crash data, because the data shows the cameras have NOT decreased crashes. Crashes are UP at many camera intersections. The state, the for-profit camera companies and the for-profit camera cities don’t care at all if the cameras increase crashes, so long as the camera loot rolls in on schedule.
EVERY Florida resident needs to contact their state Representatives, Senators, and the Governor to politely insist they actively support House Bill 4025 to ban red light cameras statewide. Contact info:
http://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find and http://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/
The money grab scam of red light cameras that do NOT improve safety CAN be ended if you ACT. Stay silent if you want your wallet left open to be pilfered at $158 a pop.
James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association