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Traffic scofflaws in Northwood are getting a reprieve, at least temporarily, from the city’s two speed and red light photo enforcement cameras.
That’s because Northwood’s contract with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., the owner of the cameras, expired on April 23. The cameras are still working, police Chief Tom Cairl said; but without a contract, Northwood is unable to send out citations to red-light runners and speeders.
Chief Cairl said violators shouldn’t feel too comfortable, however, because his officers are keeping a close eye on the intersections of Woodville and Lemoyne roads and Wales and Oregon roads, the high traffic areas where the cameras are located.
“No [red light photo enforcement] tickets are being issued for the time being,” the chief said. “But this could change. If the contract is renewed, we can go back 16 days and issue tickets for violations in that time period.”
Whether the Redflex contract will be renewed is an open question.
City Council is divided on the desirability of the cameras, which generated $161,452.13 in fees for Northwood in 2012 and about the same amount in 2011, according to data provided by Finance Director Ken Yant. Supporters maintain the cameras improve public safety, while detractors say they hurt businesses on Woodville.
The city of 5,300 residents has collected $1,025,259.67 since the cameras went into service in 2005. The money has been spent for public safety purposes such as radio equipment and school crossing lights.
Council has given the Redflex contract two readings, on April 11 and April 25, and was to have voted the issue up or down at its regular meeting last Thursday.
But the agenda item was tabled on a motion introduced by Council Member Connie Hughes, who noted that Councilman Michael Myers was absent. She said she felt the full council should be present for the vote.
Her motion was seconded by Dave Gallaher. In voting on the motion to table, council deadlocked 3-3, with Mr. Gallaher, Ed Schimmel, and Jim Barton voting no and Ms. Hughes, Dean Edwards, and Randy Kozina voting yes.
Mayor Mark Stoner then broke the tie with a yes vote. Mr. Stoner supports keeping the cameras, but after the meeting predicted that council would turn down a renewal of the Redflex contract. “It doesn’t look good,” he said.
Mr Gallaher said he also supports keeping the cameras, even though he recently received a $125 citation for exceeding the 20 mph speed limit in a school zone.
Ms. Hughes supports renewal of the contract. Mr. Kozina said he has believed the cameras were a bad idea from the beginning.