Red light camera opponents return to City Hall

January 24, 2012 4:18:01 PM PST
The long-fought battle over red light cameras isn't over yet. The cameras are off, but a new settlement with the camera vendors is causing some people to see red all over again.

The multi-million dollar settlement depends on drivers who have not paid their tickets to pay up. Some of the opponents of the cameras say they don't want to pay.

The deal would cost Houston millions. Ultimately, it's up to the Houston City Council if they will pay it.

Under a settlement that would let the city of Houston out of its red light camera contract, the city of Houston would pay at least $4.8 million.

"This settlement achieves that goal. It takes the cameras down," American Traffic Solutions attorney Andy Taylor said.

He says the settlement would bring down the cameras in exchange for $2.3 million up front from the city and a portion of that collected from red light runners.

"The people who will fund it are red light camera runners, not the hard-working citizen taxpayers," Taylor said.

Voters called for the end of the red light cameras in a November 2010 ballot referendum. That resulted in a tough decision for city leaders: breach the contract with ATS and risk paying millions of dollars or shut off the cameras following the will of voters.

"I'm glad they're getting rid of them," said Christine Olson, who received a red light camera ticket.

In all, the deal could be worth $12 million, but it doesn't mean Houston taxpayers are in the clear. The city still has to attempt collecting outstanding fines from prior red light camera runners. If collections don't suffice, the city could be on the hook for millions to be paid to ATS over the next three years.

"This is gonna come out of the general funds, in my opinion," said Paul Kubosh.

He and his brother fought to get the cameras taken down. Even though this is seemingly a victory, Kubosh says they are still dissatisfied.

"If we wouldn't have raised an ungodly fit, the cameras would be back on and we'd just have to suck it up," he said.

There are still those who think the city should continue to fight in court. They say if the city wins, they wouldn't owe ATS anything.

"This is something the city needs to move forward with quickly," said Houston City Council member Ed Gonzalez. "I think we need to get this resolved. I know it's been a pending issue now in the minds of many Houstonians for quite a long time. So I think the right thing is for us to move and end this quickly. I think in the end, it's a fair settlement for the city and I think something we need to take advantage of."

City Council is set to vote on the settlement Wednesday. If it is approved, these red light cameras would come down within 60 days.