What's the city's red light camera contract costing?
HOUSTON Every flash is a new red light ticket - headed to a red light runner -- nine days after 180,000 Houston voters said the cameras should be gone. There's another one. The city still can't or won't say when the cameras will be turned off or taken down. The most active red light camera in our city is just off the Southwest Freeway at Bellaire Boulevard. More than 1,600 tickets were captured from the electric eye in September alone. The company that put the cameras up earns $1.75 for every ticket issued. In September, commission was more $31,000 city wide. But that's not the only money the company gets; when we dug through the contract we discovered the city pays American Traffic Systems $2,395 per camera per month -- and there are 70 cameras across the city. The company's monthly take is $167,000 a month. And the contract says the company gets four months notice to cancel the deal. "I want them to do the right thing with the contract, too, and I don't want them to put out a lot of money of my tax dollars," one driver said. Immediately cutting the contract though will cost Houston taxpayers $677,350, which may explain some of the mayor's reluctance to cut the cameras right away. "Citizens have to understand that I have legal issues on both sides, and my job is to protect the city," Mayor Annise Parker said. There's one more figure we found interesting in all of this. To fight the referendum, the camera company spent more than $1.8 million of its money on a political campaign to keep red light cameras up. This is big money. Many of you are still weighing in to comment on the red light camera wait on our website. We put the contract up and a link to those campaign expenses.