Canton, Ohio City Council Votes In Favor Of Traffic Cameras staff writer
Posted Dec 08, 2008 @ 10:50 PM
Last update Dec 10, 2008 @ 09:26 AM


City Council is one step closer to implementing red light and speeding cameras at dangerous intersections, school zones and some residential neighborhoods.

At Monday night’s meeting, council voted 9-1 to authorize Safety Director Thomas Nesbitt to enter into a professional services agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems for the implementation of automated photo traffic enforcement.

Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, D-at large, opposed the legislation. Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, was sick and not at the meeting. Councilman Patrick Barton, D-7, was not able to attend due to a personal matter.

“I can’t help but believe it’s all about money,” Cirelli said. Traffic enforcement is the responsibility of the police department, she said.

“I really think this is a lose-lose situation,” Cirelli added.

But the plan can’t be implemented until council later votes on ordinances that would make speeding and red-light infractions civil violations when documented by traffic cameras, said Joseph Martuccio, the city’s law director.

Generating more traffic money for an ailing city budget is not the “ulterior motive” behind the cameras, Majority Leader Donald Casar, D-at large, said during the Democratic caucus meeting.

Nesbitt and Mayor William J. Healy II also say safety is the goal of the cameras, which have stirred controversy in some cities in other states as well as in other Ohio communities like Chillicothe. Some cities have banned use of traffic cameras.

Councilman Joseph Carbenia, D-9, cited safety in his support.

“At this point, when we’re talking about our school children, if we save one life … it’s worth the whole thing,” Carbenia said, echoing a comment made prior to the council meeting by Casar.

Details are still being worked out, but the proposed agreement with Redflex includes how the city and company would share revenue generated by civil traffic citations, Nesbitt told City Council prior to its regular meeting.

A five-year agreement with Redflex is being considered.

Redflex has headquarters in Arizona. Signs would warn of the camera devices, Nesbitt said. A 30-day trial period is planned before citations are issued.

Here’s how the revenue would break down for cameras attached to traffic signals at intersections, according to Nesbitt:

  • For the first 200 citations, the city would receive 67 percent of the fines and Redflex would receive 33 percent.
  • After that, the city would receive 77 percent of the revenue and the company 23 percent.

Here’s how the revenue would be shared when portable tripod cameras are used:

  • For the first 200 citations, the city would receive 57 percent of the fines and Redflex 43 percent.
  • After that, the city would receive 67 percent of the revenue and the company 33 percent.

Council President Allen Schulman, who does not typically vote on legislation, cited privacy as a reason not to use the cameras.

“This is an assault on the right to privacy of our citizens, without question,” said Schulman, a local attorney.

“ … I believe we will have started something that we’ll never be able to put back in the bottle, and that is cameras (on) our public streets.”

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