published Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Red Bank traffic cameras still in dispute

by Chris Carroll

As traffic cameras capture smiling faces and various hand gestures in Red Bank, officials continue to question Mayor Monty Millard's directive to disconnect the devices for good.

"We've got to do our homework before we take them down," Vice Mayor Greg Jones said. "I don't think we've done that yet. It will cost something, and we'll have to deal with the safety issue."

During his inaugural speech, Millard asked City Manager Chris Dorsey to cancel a 12-year contract with American Traffic Solutions, the company that provides the city with three sets of cameras and a speed van.

But officials involved in the negotiations fear that Red Bank may have to pay a six-figure penalty for breaking the contract, a move that won't be politically palatable to a city that spent $172,724 in reserve funds to balance the budget without a tax increase last summer.

The first time Red Bank can leave the contract without financial penalty is 2013, but other factors are in play. Millard, the lone opposing vote to the contract extension the city reached in January with American Traffic, runs for re-election in 2012.

"I do what the commissioners want, but if the ballpark number's out of the realm of possibility, we'll have to wait," Dorsey said. "Any large number will be detrimental to us."

Dorsey's reluctance to aggressively break the contract underscores miscommunication between him and Millard, who made his pitch to turn off the cameras on Nov. 16.

Late last week, the mayor said he urged Dorsey to write a letter to American Traffic officials about leaving the contract, but Dorsey said he had no knowledge of that request. No such letter was sent, he said.

Millard now says the city is waiting for "verbal communication" from American Traffic before proceeding further. He said he's anxious to hear something, considering that "20 to 25 business owners up and down Dayton Boulevard" told him the cameras were "killing them."

"It may well be one day next week before we get any information," he said. "We need it."

Dorsey said the city may end the red-light infractions caught by cameras, but keep cameras for speeding tickets at the city's three major intersections.

Dorsey staunchly defended traffic cameras before Election Day, but now that at least two commissioners want them gone, he's going along with their wishes.

"Sometimes I feel like an attorney," he said. "I still think the traffic cameras do some good, but if the commissioners want to get rid of them, I'll proceed down that road."

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfree or 423-757-6610.

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fairmon said...

I quit doing business with two services in Red Bank after getting a ticket at a red light where I did stop at the white line before turning right on red. The video only started where I was pulling out and did not record where I had stopped which was behind the big white line as I was supposed to. A smart ass at Rd Bank city hall refused to listen to any explanation. Keep the cameras if they are valued by city leaders but assure they record the entire event before issuing a citation.

I have not in the past year and will not return to Red Bank for any reason. I know others that have done the same thing. I know one business person that left Red Bank for a similar reason, I'm sure there are others. I could understand it if every business in Red Bank left. My resentment of the unjust treatment I received makes me wish they would.

November 24, 2010 at 6:45 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Red Bank only assest is Mill and Mine and Ace. I drive around it.

November 24, 2010 at 7:40 a.m.

While I believe the cameras are a big part of Red Bank's problem, I think the larger problem has been the heavy handed tactics of the police department and the generally ultra-conservative nature of the politics and governance. Your schools are dying, your businesses have died, and your property values have tanked. If you look just over the ridge, you will see high property values, award winning schools, and thriving businesses in North Chattanooga. Think about it and ask yourselves why. Stick to your current plan Red Bank and soon you will likely become another Rossville.

November 24, 2010 at 10:31 a.m.
DWR said...

I've been avoiding Red Bank for years. They seem to think of traffic tickets as a source of revenue rather than a safety tool. I expect to see Barney Fife hiding behind a bush somewhere.

November 24, 2010 at 1:44 p.m.
sunnydelight said...

I haven't had a camera ticket but a Barney Fife Smart Azz on a motorcycle gave my wife a warning ticket. Seems he couldn't read the temporary tag on her new vehicle through the window tint while wearing his sunglasses. His helment was on so tight that day his big head was out of order and he was thinking with the little one as some men do sometimes. Some who still don't get it think it's all about reckless driving, speeding and running red lights. It's about abuse of power and people feeling uncomfortable. Old Joe let that thinking get his job and he still don't get it. I lived and shopped in Red Bank for many years. I'm 67 now and much wiser . I left. I hear Dub's is leaving also . I agree that mill & Mine and Ace is the only worthwhile places there these days . There's other Ace Hwde's also Home Depot and Lowes . So that only leaves Mill & Mine .

November 24, 2010 at 2:44 p.m.
dave said...

As I have said before...I was raised in Red Bank and my mom still lives there. BUT I avoid it like the plague. I go to her house and straight back to 27. I do not run red lights if I can avoid it and do not speed but I also do not trust these traffic cams and feel they are ONLY a ploy to fee grab by the the City of Red Bank. Frankly I don't turn on Red and if I even think a light is going to change I slow to a crawl and get ready to JAB on the brake to prevent going through the light. (Tell me that is safer?) I agree with Monty on this one, the Traffic cams need to GO! Red Bank might have a chance at having some business revenue then. Ask your selves Red Bank Commissioners how many businesses can you name that USED to be in Red Bank but are no longer.

November 24, 2010 at 4:17 p.m.
Allison12 said...

Tell the ding bat Ruth Jeno and Greg Jones that balance budget on revenue from tickets. Yep, that is sustainable.

November 24, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.
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