As St Johns County commissioners, and city commissioners in St Augustine and St Augustine Beach, are looking for revenue sources other than property taxes to pay for the costs of operations, controversial “red-light cameras” have remained off the table — that is not the case throughout the 7th Judicial Circuit.
In 2008, Palm Coast became the first area city to get red-light cameras and they now have grown to 43 cameras posted at 27 intersections in Flagler County. In Volusia County, Holly Hill and Daytona Beach put up their first red-light cameras in 2010; Daytona Beach now has 12 cameras at seven intersections.
In an adverse ruling handed down from the 4th District Court of Appeals October 15th, Hollywood, Florida was instructed that only police officers and traffic infraction enforcement officers have the authority to make the initial review of the images caught on the cameras and to decide which cases will be pursued and ultimately issue citations.
Friday, the 4th DCA refused to recommend that the Florida Supreme Court take up the challenge to the way many cities across the state have handled red light citation issuance, making the decision unlikely to move along any further.
At issue is a practice employed by the red-light camera companies. American Traffic Solutions, the company contracted in Palm Coast, and its competitors, typically collect and review the video footage from the cameras. When their employees determine that a violation has occurred, that selected video clip is forwarded to local authorities. If confirmed locally, the company mails out the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle.
Despite the rulings, and a federal lawsuit still to be decided, the City of Palm Coast reports that they are continuing their red-light program.
“We have been monitoring the court cases,” city spokeswoman Cindi Lane told reporters. “The only change is that those who don’t pay the $158 fine within 60 days aren’t being pursued — at least for now.” Lane said that between November 1st and the ruling on Monday, a total of 2,119 notices of violation had been issued. The City of Palm Coast is still paying the company’s fees.
Although the cameras are still in place, Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood says that they’re turned off and the city is not using them for anything.