NDN Reporter Katherine Albers' tweets
COLLIER COUNTY — One Collier County commissioner isn't ready to put the brakes on the red light cameras yet.
Donna Fiala is asking commissioners to direct staff to bring back a new red light camera agreement between the county and American Traffic Solutions, Inc. the company that installed and maintains the county's red light cameras, to go into effect March 1.
In December, commissioners voted 3 to 2 to terminate the red light camera contract with ATS effective Feb. 28 and to direct the company to remove all of the cameras from intersections. Fiala voted against the termination.
As a result, Fiala cannot bring the item back for reconsideration. She said she has new information that merits a look by commissioners, which is why she is bringing it back.
"They are an important safety feature for our community," said Fiala, who also has received emails from constituents about the cameras. "Why would you object to something that helps people follow the law? I am just hoping one of the majority has seen the light and will take a new look at their vote."
Collier County currently has cameras at 19 approaches and 10 intersections. The county monitors left turn and straight movements, but not right turns. In 2012, ATS issued 10,834 violations, an average of 903 per month.
Critics have argued that the cameras offer no additional safety protection and that the money, which is taken from Collier County residents, lines the coffers of the Arizona-based ATS.
The county collects $75 of the $158 fine. The county pays ATS $28,000 per month for the program from revenues received from the traffic violations processed through the Traffic Infraction Detector program, according to Fiala's information.
Since the county agreed to terminate its contract with ATS, County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow is suggesting to commissioners that they negotiate a new contract or, by written agreement of both parties, can elect to treat the Dec. 11, 2012, notice to terminate as void from the beginning and continue with the current arrangement.
Tougher dog ordinance may get green light
Commissioners will finally vote on a proposed ordinance that repeals and replaces the current animal control ordinance.
The new ordinance strengthens the existing provisions within the Animal Control ordinance that allow for permitting and inspection of certain animal-related businesses and expanding the same to include cat and dog breeders; introduces language that would result in consistency in penalties; and aligns the provisions in the dangerous dog section more closely with state statute.
The new ordinance has been in the works since 2011 after Golden Gate Estates resident Arthur Perkins surrendered 45 dogs to Domestic Animal Services. Of those surrendered, 14 died of parvovirus and one golden retriever, Willie, disappeared in Golden Gate Estates after DAS allowed him to be adopted by someone whom they had previously flagged as a person who should not be allowed to adopt.
DAS had been on alert and checking on Perkins' breeding operation since 2005, often reporting open wounds, flea bites and bloody ears on the animals. But on follow-up visits, Perkins' dogs were in better condition and had properly been treated for parasites or sores.
County officials acknowledged that tougher dog ordinance needed to be in place and said they are pleased with the results. Still, some of those who helped put it together are not happy with the final result. Among the items for the commissioners to consider is a version of the ordinance drafted and approved in January by the Domestic Animal Services Advisory Board.
The version would remove animal control officer discretion and would mandate that a penalty is issued each time a violation is witnessed or verified. The advisory board's version also mandates that uncollected citations must go to county court, which the county argues is inadvisable because it would force staff to bring forward all cases to court, even if the process would be unfruitful.
The animal ordinance will be heard at 11 a.m. today.
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