Editorial: Red-light cameras ... public discussion could help stop the confusion

Collier County commissioners seem to be listening to comments from citizens on those new cameras at major intersections around town.

Most of the comments are about full $125 “fines” for owners of vehicles that make right-hand turns on red lights without first coming to a full stop.

That tends to vindicate citizens who were wary of the cameras in advance, fearing they would be revenue producers more so than safety enhancers — protecting us from those drivers who just barrel straight through red lights.

County officials now are working on a fallback, tiered system of financial penalties, perhaps starting at half price — $62.50 — for the first right-turn-on-red offense and going up from there.

Initially, this item was scheduled for the board meeting’s catch-all agenda that goes through without public discussion. We believe Commissioners Donna Fiala and Frank Halas are on the right track by calling for the item to be brought out for full public discussion. We would like to hear more about what each commissioner has to say about this.

We also would appreciate clarity on who pays the hearing officer for appeals and where the processing fees go. Is the officer paid by the private camera-system contractor? Even if the officer is paid from $50 fees levied on vehicle owners who appeal in vain, is the process clear of potential conflicts of interest?

Getting the camera issue all the way off the consent agenda is a green light for public policy — and better public understanding.

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