Members of Red Bank City Commission decided by 4-1 vote at the group's Sept. 4 meeting to sever the city's contract with American Traffic Solutions, which operates the four traffic cameras that cite drivers who speed or run red lights on Dayton Boulevard.
January 2013 is the city's first opportunity to remove itself without penalty from the 12-year contract it signed with ATS in 2007, and the Sept. 4 vote authorizes the commission to give the company the required 90-day notice of contract's termination.
"I think it will bring more people and business to Red Bank," said Vice Mayor John Roberts of his reason for voting to discontinue the contract.
Ruth Jeno was the city's sole commissioner to vote against canceling the contract with ATS.
"We're not talking about just the cameras," she said. "It's about having police officers in our neighborhood."
She said the Police Department lacks the funds necessary to add to its manpower each shift, and she feels the existing officers' time would be better spent fighting the city's recent increase in crime, including a murder on Redding Road and a car theft ring, than writing traffic citations on Dayton Boulevard.
"The citizens in Red Bank are dear to my heart," she said, adding that the majority of residents she has spoken with concerning the issue say they want the cameras to stay. "I think [the traffic cameras] have served a purpose; people are slowing down and they're paying attention."
Commissioner Floy Pierce said she had originally voted to install the cameras six years ago for safety reasons.
"I have heard so much from the citizens of this area ... that [the city installing traffic cameras] has hurt them," she said following the vote, as to her reason for reversing her stance. "If this doesn't work we do have the option to put them back."
Police Chief Tim Christol said he took over the position following the cameras' installation, and he does not currently have access to accident reports before that time that would confirm or disprove that the cameras have served their purpose of increasing safety. He said he is in the process of acquiring those records from the state.
Resident Dave McGinnis said he appreciates that the cameras make the city safer, but from a business standpoint he said he feels they should be removed.
"There are many people I do business with that avoid Red Bank like the plague," he said. "The bottom line is the traffic count being down; it's hurting our community."
Several other citizens spoke in favor of the cameras' removal prior to the commissioners' vote.
Harold Clark, a 65-year Red Bank resident, said he feels the cameras violate his privacy.
"I'm tired of being underneath the eye in the sky," he said.
Resident Jill Guess said drivers trying to avoid the cameras on Dayton Boulevard often speed down side roads such as Ashmore Avenue instead.
"It's very dangerous," she said. "I'd rather they stay on Dayton Boulevard where they belong."
Christol pointed out that the city's traffic laws will remain the same when the city is released from its contract with ATS Jan. 1; only the method of enforcement will change.