Red Bank may give cameras a red light

Red Bank may give cameras a red light

August 30th, 2012 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

Some Red Bank commissioners are eager to increase the number of drivers in the city by removing traffic cameras installed on Dayton Boulevard seven years ago.

Commissioners will vote at their next meeting at City Hall Tuesday, Sept. 4 on whether to continue the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions, which receives approximately 60 percent of the combined revenue from the city's traffic cameras and speed van, according to Mayor Monty Millard.

Either party has the ability to opt out of their 12-year contract without financial penalty every three years in January. Commissioners have the opportunity to discontinue the agreement January 2013 and will vote on the matter Sept. 4 in order to provide the required 90-day notice.

"I think it's hurting business in Red Bank," said Millard, who was the sole commissioner to vote against renewing the contract three years ago.

He said from the time the cameras were installed in 1995 through 2010, the city's traffic count dropped by approximately 1,200 cars per day, a figure obtained from the Tennessee Department of Transportation by Wayne Hamill, the city's former director of public works.

Millard said he conducted a survey of around 20-25 Red Bank businesses concerning the traffic cameras.

"With one exception, they all told me the red light cameras were keeping people from coming and frequenting their business, because that's what their customers told them," he said.

Since Tennessee outlawed issuing tickets to drivers based solely on traffic camera photos for right-on-red violations, revenue has dropped significantly.

"They're not making a lot of money for us now," said Millard.

Red Bank spent $357,070 and collected $579,175 in revenue from the traffic camera program during the 2008-2009 fiscal year, according to John Alexander, financial director and interim city manager. The city netted less than half that amount in 2011-2012, bringing in just $245,594 and spending $158,735. He said the city included $30,000 per year in its expenditure calculations to cover the cost of operating the speed van.

Millard said the city hopes to make up for the lost revenue by increasing business within its jurisdiction.

"Hopefully our popular businesses will be more frequented and our sales tax revenue will go up," he said.