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California: City Fined $250,000 Over Botched Red Light Camera Program
South San Francisco motorists to receive red light camera ticket refunds within sixty days.

Mayor Mark Addiego
Red light camera program troubles continue to grow in South San Francisco, California. On Wednesday, the city council decided to pay the $250,000 bill submitted by the San Mateo County Superior Court to cover the administrative costs of processing $3 million worth of red light camera citation refunds. Because the city failed to properly ratify its contract with American Traffic Solutions, the company in charge of automated ticketing, the 6800 tickets issued between August 14 2009 and February 28, 2010 were declared invalid by the court.

"The city will also return to the court the portion of the fines that it has previously received related to the dismissed citations," City Attorney Steven T. Mattas explained in a memo to the council. "Staff will make these payments to the court within five days of approval of this agreement.... The city is also responsible for any 'actual and necessary' administrative costs connected with the issuance of the refunds."

The quarter-million figure represents only an estimate of the costs involved, and the final amount could be greater. Refunds include the $446 cost of the ticket, plus interest calculated at a 7-percent annual rate, and the full cost of traffic school that any driver may have taken to avoid points on his license. Those who did not attend a school will have the license points manually removed from their driving record. In California, the superior court system is responsible for dividing up the profit from each citation among a number of city, state and county agencies. Because the court does not hold the cash for more than a month, it has asked the city to supply $1.5 million to begin the refunds. Court administrators will negotiate with the state for the return of its portion of the citation revenue. If the state fails to send a check, the court will withhold the correct amount from future traffic ticket payments.

"In addition, issuance of the unauthorized citations caused the court unnecessary expense, in the amount of a $4.81 per-citation financial charge, which it paid the vendor that ordinarily processes its traffic citations," the agreement with the San Mateo court explained.

Despite the hassle already experienced, the city council narrowly voted to continue the red light camera program. A copy of the proposed agreement between the city and the superior court is available in a 1.1mb PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Agreement Between South San Francisco and Superior Court (City of South San Francisco, California, 4/21/2010)

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