The Press Newspaper
Northwood City Council on May 9 tabled a vote on whether to renew a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., to continue operating traffic cameras at two intersections.
Council members have already taken positions at recent meetings on the cameras, with four firmly against renewing the contract, and three in favor.
The proposed ordinance to renew the contract has had two readings before council. The third reading and a final vote from council was expected at the May 9 meeting, but Councilman Mike Myers, a supporter of the cameras, was not in attendance. Council President Connie Hughes, also a supporter, asked council to table the measure until the next meeting so Myers could be present to vote.
“I’m going to make a motion that we table this ordinance right now,” said Hughes. “I was asked to do that by Councilman Myers. We are very divided about this and, of course, he’s not here. And he would have been, but he had to go out of town.”
Councilman Dave Gallaher, who supports the cameras, voted against tabling the ordinance.
“I’m not sure we can afford to table things because one council member is out of town,” said Gallaher. “I understand he’d like to be here to discuss it, and I wish he could be. The reason there’s seven of us is so if one or two of us can’t make a meeting, we can still get business done.”
“My only comment is,” said Councilman Randy Kozina, who is opposed to the cameras, but voted to table the measure, “if we do this tonight, this is going to continue until all seven of us are here, correct?”
“Yes,” said Hughes. “I wouldn’t want it any other way, basically because I think it’s the only fair way.”
Councilmen James Barton and Ed Schimmel, who are opposed to the cameras, voted against tabling the ordinance. Councilmen Dean Edwards, also an opponent, voted to table the ordinance.
Mayor Mark Stoner, who backs the cameras, broke the 3-3 tie vote to table and delay a vote on the measure until the next council meeting.
“I see both sides of this,” said Stoner before he cast his tie breaking vote. “In all my years sitting in this seat, I believe if anyone asked for something to be tabled, we’ve approved it. So, under those circumstances, yes.”
Council approved a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., of Arizona, in 2005 to install and operate the automated photo speed and red light enforcement cameras at two intersections: Woodville and Lemoyne roads, and Wales and Oregon roads. The current three year contract with the company expired on April 23.
Fines are $110. Violators do not get points on their licenses.
The city and Redflex share a percentage of the revenue from traffic citations issued as a result of the cameras, which have caught thousands of motorists speeding or going through red lights. Since the cameras were installed, the city has collected a total of $989,699.18 in fines, which are earmarked to fund safety improvement projects, such as the construction of a continuous right turn lane at Oregon and Wales roads.
Opponents of the cameras say they have hurt business, that they are used as a way for the city to increase revenue, and that a higher percentage of fines leave the local economy for Arizona.
Supporters, including Police Chief Tom Cairl, say the cameras are a deterrent to speeding and running red lights, and that revenue from the fines has funded many safety improvement projects in the city.
Cairl also has provided statistics showing the number of accidents have dropped at those intersections since the cameras were installed.