The Tampa City Council voted itself out of the red-light camera business this morning. Though every single council member spoke highly of the program, they nixed a proposed two-year extension on the contract because they were unclear where the revenue was going.
The city netted about $1.6 million in revenue last fiscal year. Administrators said that money went into the general fund and is used for a variety of expenditures, including road work, but some council members said they wanted to earmark a chunk of that money specifically for intersection improvements.
The vote revealed a rift between the council and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who had backed the red-light camera program and used statistics to say it was working. Crashes at intersections where red-light cameras were located were down, said Tampa police Chief Jane Castor, and citations were down as well, proving her assertion that the cameras were changing bad driving habits and creating safer roads.
Still, the council voted 4-3 not to renew the contract with Tempe, Ariz.-based American Traffic Solutions, which had placed and operated cameras at key Tampa intersections since 2011.
There were 51 cameras working at 21 intersections in the city limits.
A nonplussed Castor after the vote was taken shrugged when asked what was next. She expected she would get with Buckhorn to answer any questions the council had on where the revenue was being spent. She said likely, the contract extension issue would be brought back before the council.
The cameras will remain in effect until next month, when the current contract ends.