5/4/2011Missouri: County Government Erases Red Light Camera Ordinance
Jefferson County, Missouri completes red light camera removal process by eliminating ordinance.
For Jefferson County, Missouri, it was not enough to force a red light camera company to pack its bags and leave the area. Commissioners last week wiped the books clean, unanimously repealing the ordinance adopted last summer that had authorized the use of automated ticketing machines in the unincorporated parts of the county.
"The old three-member county commission decided to implement a red light camera program using ATS as the vendor," Councilman Bob Boyer told TheNewspaper. "As is typical, ATS came to Jefferson County and found their problem for them. And then decided the best solutions were red light cameras."
County voters had adopted a home rule charter that changed the form of government to a seven-member elected council that took office in January. Once the old council realized they would be replaced, the push to have the red light camera system up and running was accelerated.
"They had three public hearings -- mandated by law -- and voted on the ordinance in the same night," Boyer said. "The result was a red light camera ordinance rammed through in six weeks."
There was no advance publicity regarding the hearings, so the public did not have a meaningful opportunity to participate. The contract with ATS was signed on September 28. When Boyer introduced his measure to repeal the red light camera ordinance four months ago, the council heard from more than thirty residents attending a series of meetings.
"We did it the right way," Boyer said. "I hope other communities can have the courage to stand up against ATS and their mob-like business model, and get rid of these cameras in lieu of other proven safety methods."
ATS realized this council was going to do everything it could to uproot the camera program, so the company decided on February 8 to formally terminate its contract with the county.
"The Jefferson County Council has ignored the overwhelming majority of Missourians and Jefferson County residents who support red light safety technology to enforce our laws and save lives," ATS vice president Jason Norton wrote to the county administrator. "ATS has decided that we no longer wish to continue our contractual relationship with Jefferson County."
Now that their work in the county is complete, members of the council are urging state lawmakers to take up bills that would prohibit the use of red light cameras and speed cameras statewide. Boyer has also been working with the Missouri Department of Transportation to improve safety by urging them to increase the length of yellow times at problem intersections.