In a 13-4 vote, City Council approved the payout of at least $4.8 million to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to put an end to the legal fight surrounding the controversial red-light cameras.
Newly elected council members, Jack Christie, who defeated Jolanda Jones in the December runoff election and Helena Brown both voted against the settlement, along with incumbents Mike Sullivan and C.O. Bradford.
The primary reason of the vote against the settlement by council members like Bradford was the strong possibility that general fund money would be used and concerns on why the settlement makes sense if the city insists it did nothing wrong.
Important to note is, if the city is unable to collect on the $25 million in outstanding violations that they are hoping to gather from red-light runners, it must cover the shortfall with taxpayer dollars from the general fund that pays for police and firefighters.
Many are skeptical of whether the city will be able to recover the additional $1.8 million from outstanding red-light citations.
“I do not believe that we will touch general funds, but it is part of the settlement package,” Mayor Annise Parker said.
The city has roughly $3 million on hand from fines paid by outstanding violators, but they would need to collect the additional $1.8 million within a three-year period, to avoid dipping into taxpayer money.
This has become a tremendous headache for the current administration, having inherited this fiscal nightmare from her predecessor.
Those on the “for or against” side of the red-light camera argument have to accept that the city entered into a valid contract that had to be honored. The will of the voters also had to be honored.
Something had to be done.
What we do know now though, is that the next three years will be crucial, and as always the Forward Times will keep you updated on the status of the collection efforts.