Hollywood’s red light camera program under scrutiny; commissioners lobbied to consider new deal
During last week’s commission meeting, the Hollywood Commission agreed to a resolution to terminate the agreement with American Traffic Solutions for the Photo Red Light Enforcement Program. There was no discussion on the matter.
But then later in the meeting, attorney Alan Koslow, retained by American Traffic Solutions, made the Commission an offer: give ATS two months to develop a contract that would not cost Hollywood any money and Hollywood could avoid paying for the cameras for the next two months. ATS would waive the final two months of the payments, approximately $49,000 per month during the 60 day notice period required under the current contract to end the contract, potentially saving Hollywood $100,000.
Mayor Peter Bober was impressed with offer and liked the fact that it could save the City money but this led to a long argument as residents complained bitterly about the program and asked the commission to end it. Commissioner Patricia Asseff was pleased that a new contract with ATS could save the City money. She believes the program saves lives. But Commissioners Traci Callari and Peter Hernandez were opposed to the deal. The Commission ultimately voted to consider the offer by ATS.
ATS indicated they would like to continue negotiating with the City to determine if a revised contract can be agreed upon that would be cost neutral to the city. If no agreement is reached, then the current contract expires in 60 days. If an agreement is put forth that Hollywood staff feels is worthy of the Commission’s consideration, then it will be put on an upcoming commission agenda.
Hollywood was operating 18 red light cameras at intersections that were considered dangerous. The Hollywood Police Department supported the program and police officials cited statistics showing that people were less likely to run red lights and that there were fewer serious accidents at intersections where the cameras were in place. But the cameras were unpopular with the public and did not generate as much revenue as expected. Also, Hollywood lost an appeal involving a man who was cited for running a red light after being caught on camera. Hollywood had stopped issuing citations based on the red light cameras.
Hollywood staff recommended the discontinuation of the red light camera program because of the impact of the 4th District Court of Appeal (DCA) ruling and the changes to the business practices the City would be required to make under the current contract would create additional expense for the city. The program is already costing the city more than it is bringing in. Due to the ruling, the City stopped issuing red light camera violations in April, but Hollywood has still been paying the contractually obligated fees to ATS. The City had been negotiating with ATS during this time to revise the contract to be less costly. When the City could not negotiate a new agreement, staff moved forward to recommend ending the contract and brought it to the Commission on July 8 for consideration.
Commission approves $13,689,489 contract
The Commission approved a resolution for a contract between Hollywood and Giannetti Contracting Corporation for construction services related to the Water Main Replacement Program from Hollywood Boulevard to Sheridan Street and between Federal Highway and the Intracoastal Waterway. The contract is for $13,689,489.
No new taxes in Hollywood’s fiscal year 2016 budget
During a recent meeting, the Hollywood Commission set the Not-To-Exceed millage rate at the current operating millage rate, plus the voter approved debt service. This means there will not be a tax rate increase for the City of Hollywood for fiscal year 2016. There was no discussion on this issue.
There will be a Budget workshop for the commission on August 27 from 3:00 to 5:00 and then there are the two public budget hearings in September on the 15th and the 28th at 5:30 p.m.
The operating millage is 7.4479. The voted debt service millage is 0.3528. The total proposed (“not to exceed”) millage rate is 7.8007.
Also, the Commission passed a resolution designating Patricia Asseff as the voting delegate for the Florida League of Cities 2015 Annual Conference to be held in Orlando in August.