News Section: Local Government
Bradenton City Council Approves Renewal of Red Light Contract
BRADENTON – The City of Bradenton will have its red light camera contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions Inc. renewed for at least one more year after a debate over whether the program helps reduce accidents.
Originally approved five years ago, the decision to renew the contract was ok'd at Wednesday's city council meeting. The city currently has seven red light cameras and are looking to install three more.
Vice Mayor and Councilman Gene Gallo said that while he had not personally seen a "dramatic change in what's happening at the intersections," he agreed with people who argue that the cameras are worth keeping in the city if they save a single life. He also said that the program was worth keeping even if the city only broke even from it, and that it is not about money.
Councilman Gene Brown echoed Gallo's argument, saying a personal friend of his was killed by a driver who ran a red light. "If we do save one life, it is worth it," he said.
Councilman Harold Byrd acknowledged that trying to measure peoples' behavioral changes from such a policy is difficult, but said that the cameras had changed his own driving habits and felt the program was worthwhile. Councilman Patrick Roff also supported approval, saying he was happy that the city does not give citations from cameras catching people turning on red lights (the city allows such actions to occur at up to 15 mph) and that he saw no reason to not renew the contract.
Chief of Police Michael Radzilowski said, "We'll never know how many accidents never occurred because we've changed peoples' driving habits."
Councilman Bemis Smith, who voted against renewal just as he had when the city approved the original contract and the lone dissenter in the vote, said the city hasn't reduced red light accidents based on the data they've seen.
He later said in response to Gallo's and Brown's comments: "If we go by the adage 'if we save one life' then moving forward, I would advocate this city is reckless in not requiring every citizen to have a monitor in their car showing how fast they're going so we can ticket them when they speed ... I'm not advocating that or saying you're looking for that, but if we keep following that adage, then government would overreach on everything."
City Clerk Carl Callahan noted that the language in the contract advises that if the revenue from red light citations is not enough to cover the cost of the program, the city "would not be on the hook for any future liability."
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