To get proposals or not to get proposals for red light cameras? That is the question before the city council Thursday.
Council members will decide if they want to go ahead and ask vendors to submit estimates and contracts to install and run red light cameras at two intersections within the city.
The contract must be "cost-neutral" to the city and come with a 90-day termination clause.
Red light cameras are a contentious issue in the city and throughout the state. Many municipalities are in the midst of litigation because of the tickets from red light cameras.
“I voted for this but I’m starting to take a little pause and see some of this shake out before we move forward,” Mayor Frank Hibbard said. “Things just keep changing.”
South Florida cities are mired in lawsuits regarding red light cameras. Critics call it a revenue machine for city coffers.
Clearwater Police Lt. David Dalton has worked to help draft the request for proposals to install red light cameras at two intersections.
“A lot of cities pay a maintenance fee to the vendor, our intent is to make no impact on the city at all,” Dalton said.
The traffic division consists of a handful of officers, Chief Anthony Holloway said. The cameras could help alleviate officers so they can cover other traffic infractions in the city.
John Doran thinks the city should move forward and ask for proposals from red light camera companies.
“Asking for proposals is just asking for proposals,” Doran said. “This is not for fundraising. It’s a cost neutral proposition. It’s to supplement the activities of law enforcement with technology.”
It’s not only the lawsuits. State legislators might even reconsider the law that allowed them.
Rob Surette, an attorney for the city, said many of the procedural and constitutional issues being raised in south Florida courts should come out in the respective city’s favor.
“There could be some legislative attempts to repeal the statute that would be the most significant issue,” Surrette said. “The problem is we don’t know what Tallahassee is going to do in the next two months.”
Kenneth City and St. Petersburg have red light cameras. Oldsmar, Dunedin, Pinellas Park and the county are considering them.
Council member Paul Gibson has been a critic of the cameras. Gibson said the city should wait until the litigation is over and make sure the state does not change its stance too.
“What I was concerned about was exactly what’s happening,” Gibson said. “Let someone else pay for (the litigation). It’s really uncertain which way the court is going to rule. The timing is even more obvious that this is not the right time.”
City council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday (March 17) at , 112 S Osceola Ave.