It seems the Milton red light cameras are here to stay.
The Milton City Council is closer to renewing an agreement with American Traffic Solutions in operating red light traffic cameras within city limits. An unanimous vote from this week’s executive committee meeting will take the item before next week’s regular council meeting as part of the consent agenda.
The motion to begin the negotiating process of renewal was made by Council Member Grady Hester, who is a vocal proponent of the traffic camera system.
“I was on the council when we started this. I was in favor of it and I still am,” Hester said. “They do serve a purpose.”
Hester said the cameras, located near the intersections of Hamilton Bridge Road and Dogwood Drive along with the U.S. Highway 90 intersections of Glover Lane and Parkmore Plaza Drive, have assisted authorities in determining the cause of traffic incidents along with reducing red light violations.
Prior to the motion, the council heard a presentation from David Mast, an account manager with ATS. Mast said the contract would consist of continuing a revenue neutral clause meaning the company would have to write off any year end debt accumulated by the city. In addition the agreement would see a decrease in operating costs.
The city has four cameras which cost $4,750 a month. Mast said Hillsborough operates 10 traffic cameras at the same cost. Milton has one of the cameras costs a bit less at $3,750.
“We recently entered into a five-year agreement with HillsboroughCounty and we lowered theirs to $4,250 and so that is same offer we are making to you,” Mast said.
Mast estimated the change would cause a net positive of around $2,000 a month for the city.
During the discussion, City Manager Brian Watkins said the changes to the contract would allow the city to break even monetarily.
In addition to maintaining the revenue portion to the contract, Watkins said another important clause, which would serve in the city’s best interest, should the cameras become inoperative due to legislative action from the state.
“There is a clause that says if the Florida legislature takes action to basically eliminate cameras from the federal highway system, then at no cost to us they get moved out,” Watkins said. “If the item does move through for some reason…we would not have to break the contract.”
Supporting the viewpoint of Milton Police Chief Greg Brand, Mast said the City of Milton system has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the state.
“Ninety-four percent of the folks that get a ticket on your system do not get a second ticket,” he said. “So, people are clearly respecting that you have a system and they are changing their behavior.”
Each of cameras also witnessed a 37 percent drop per violations, Mast said.
Last month, the Santa Rosa Press Gazette asked Facebook users their thoughts on the city’s red light traffic camera. A majority of the comments were against the camera system, several of which stated the cameras themselves are responsible for traffic incidents.