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North Carolina: Licensing Raised In Red Light Camera Debate
Wilmington, North Carolina renews deal with red light camera contractor that violated state engineering laws.

Wilmington City Council
The Wilmington, North Carolina City Council last week signed a red light camera contract renewal despite protests that the state had found the for-profit camera contractor in direct violation of the law. American Traffic Solutions (ATS, now known as Verra Mobility) was found to be practicing engineering without a license by the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors last year. The company has yet to remedy the violation, according to the city traffic engineer.

Todd Platzer, a local resident, raised the issue at a heated council meeting, saying that the city cannot have the red light camera installation plans retroactively certified by a licensed engineer. ATS attempted to do just that in Greenville when it hired Robert F. Rennebaum, a licensed engineer. Rennebaum was sanctioned on May 28 and ordered to pay a $5000 fine.

"You were notified that the board had sufficient evidence which supports a charge of gross negligence, incompetence or misconduct," the engineering board wrote to Rennebaum. "The resulting investigation determined that Robert F. Rennebaum, PE affixed seal to work not done under direct supervisory control; aided or abetted another to evade or attempt to evade the provisions of G.S. 89C; and failed to comply with the standard certification requirements by not including date of signing and failing to include firm licensing number on documents."

Platzer urged the council to take the matter seriously.

"Practicing engineering without a license is a criminal offense, just as it is a criminal offense for a hospital to practice medicine without a license," Platzer said. "Engineering and medical practice are licensed professions for the same reasons."

The contract renewal also invites a challenge that it is in violation of the state constitutional provision that requires ninety percent of the proceeds of every fine to go to the school system. The city circumvented the ruling by signing an interlocal agreement with New Hanover County Schools to share the photo ticketing profits. ATS is expected to collect $1 million in revenue from its ticketing program, out of which ATS pockets $460,000 and the school sends $234,000 back to Wilmington.

The council unanimously approved a contract extension through September 30, 2020.

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