Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Lake City News

Lake City FL: There may be red light cameras in its future. Cost to City $4,700 per month per camera

LAKE CITY, FL – Angie Langley, Senior Business Development Executive of American Traffic Solutions (ATS) from Arizona came to City Hall last night to introduce ATS, a company that claims to be the largest red-light camera company in America. Ms. Langley introduced another Business Development Executive, read account manager, Brent Edwards, who presented a power point presentation and answered questions. Mr. Edwards, throughout his 48 slide presentation, spoke very little about the money, concentrating mainly on the technology and on safety.

Links to other Lake City red light camera articles:
• City Manager calls red light camera: high volume traffic light vehicle activity monitoring system
The Collision Over Traffic Cameras: time for some straight talk...

Mr. Edwards told the Council that ATS is all about safety and there has been a great reduction in crashes at intersections in which the cameras are used. Mr. Edwards said that ATS's latest camera defeats "every time" the advertised devices which claim to make it impossible to photograph your license plate.

ATS account manager, Brent Edwards addresses the City Council.

After an ATS camera photographs your car the image is sent to Arizona where it has to meet "the criteria that the city sets," explained Mr. Edwards.

Then the Lake City Police Department looks at the image and decides if the owner of the vehicle is going to get a notice of violation.

If the owner pays the violation, $158, it goes away. If they don't, it is handed over to the police and it turns into a citation. If you don't pay that your license is suspended.

ATS's Edwards recommended a warning campaign, similar to a 30 cease fire, where there would only warnings issued before the system phased in.

How much does ATS make?

ATS's Edwards, who avoided stating how much the fee was for most of his presentation, gave the answer to Councilman Hill:  $4,700 a month per camera.

ATS is suggesting 12 cameras to start. This makes the City's fee $54,400 per month or $676,000 per year, or 9013 traffic tickets a year to pay the fee. The City's take is $75 per ticket. That is where the City gets the money to pay the fee. After paying the fee, the City gets to keep the rest.

What if your kid is in your car?

According to Mr. Edwards, the camera does not see inside the vehicle. Your kid causes the camera to photograph a violation, the owner receives the violation.

If the owner doesn't want to pay for the violation, he or she will have to turn in their kid. This may not make for happy family relations.

Can the City get out of the contract?

Councilman Ward asked if the City can get out of the contract. Mr. Edwards answered, "Absolutely not."

City Manager Wendell Johnson told the Council, "Our goal is safety."

As the ATS presentation was wrapping up, the Observer asked Chief Gilmore if instead of spending the money on cameras, the LCPD could spend the money on police overtime.

The Chief said they weren't that far into the process.


The City Council is thinking.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On September 18, 2012, citizen49a from Lake City wrote:

What is the justification for even considering these cameras? Is the city plagued by a continuing problem with people running red lights, causing crashes, injuries, and deaths? I don't think so.

This is a small rural town. A lot of people in this area drive too slowly, and wait an extra second or so before starting off after a red light changes to green. Go over to Jacksonville, or even Gainesville, and drive around for a while. You'll notice the contrast.

What precisely do we need these cameras for then? Why do we need to add $636,000 nut to what the city has to shell out every year, and extract that revenue from citizens? Oh, I'm sure that the cameras will catch some violators, but what's the goal here? Is the idea that we are going to enforce every law to the letter and punish all violators, and extract the maximum revenue for the state in the process? If that's what we want to do I'd suggest that we can save a lot more money, and catch some much more serious violations of the law by turning the cameras in the other direction.

Instead of putting the citizenry of this town under the microscope and squeezing every dime possible out of them, let's look at some of what's going on over there in city hall. Instead of spending $636,000 on a bunch of cameras, why not spend $63,600 and hire a part time independent special counsel to investigate possible wrongdoing, bribery, and graft at city hall?  Go out and sample 100 registered voters in the city and ask them which they'd rather have. I'm betting better than 80% would rather go with the special counsel.

Where's this enthusiasm for enforcing the law when it comes to the governing class? Figures like the Chief of police and the recently retired State's Attorney are just the most recent examples. Complete disregard for the law among these self-styled elites doesn't stop there, but without someone in authority to investigate and charge crimes, it's imprudent for citizens who don't want to be involved in lawsuits to even mention some of the other things we all know are going on around here.


This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.
(1 comment)