Photo enforced sign

Traffic operations workers Brian Foutch, left, and Mark Bullard remove a “Photo Enforced” traffic sign last week from the intersection of Bell Avenue and Hickory Street. Crews began disconnecting all red-light cameras in Denton on June 5, two days after city leaders said city courts will not enforce any outstanding tickets from the cameras in the wake of a new Texas law banning their use.

Denton’s red-light camera program is officially dead, and officials will send an official termination letter to Redflex Traffic Systems, the company contracted to operate cameras at 11 intersections around the city.

The Denton City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to terminate the contract effective immediately. The contract was set to expire July 20. The council’s vote comes less than two weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1631, which bans red-light camera programs in Texas.

During a work session earlier in the day, council members also opted to stop collections on unpaid red-light camera tickets. The program issued a $75 citation to the registered owner of a vehicle caught running a red light on camera.

“My heart goes out to the people who have paid their ticket, but at the very least we can say to them that as soon as this practice was abolished by the state, we then met and decided to stop the collecting,” council member Deb Armintor said.

The council was presented with an option to keep collecting on unpaid tickets for the next three months, through an amended agreement with Redflex. While some were in favor of the idea, overwhelmingly council members were hesitant because nonpayment is unenforceable and most people know the cameras have been outlawed.

Denton has issued a total of $6.7 million in unpaid tickets dating back to 2006, according to data presented by Ryan Adams, deputy director of public affairs. If the city could collect even half of the debt from tickets issued in the past 90 days, it would net nearly $199,000 — a number council member Jesse Davis thought was ambitious.

“I think our collection rate is going to be abysmal after everything that’s come out, I don’t think we’ll even make a 25% collection rate,” Davis said. “So hypothetically we’re leaving some money on the table, but in actuality I don’t think we are. I think it’s money we burn up trying to collect.”

City staff will remove some of the Redflex equipment from intersections and store it until the company can retrieve it, Adams said. The Arizona-based company will be in charge of removing the electronic portions of the cameras, which will take place in the next 60 days.

City staff will also post information and answers to frequently asked questions on the city website, or residents can call 940-349-7977 with questions, Adams said.

Solid waste discussion

The bulk of the work session discussion on Tuesday afternoon focused on the planned operating and capital budgets for solid waste in the upcoming year.

Ryan Cox, public works director, led much of the two-hour discussion about possible changes to the department. Proposals included charging more for picking up chemicals and electronics from homes and other new services, and opening up the landfill to accept more waste from outside agencies.

Some council members raised issue with the proposed additional services and their fees. Council member Keely Briggs said she’s concerned that if home chemical collection cost $10 per pickup, as proposed, items like buckets of paint could wind up in the green trash bins and then the landfill.

A large portion of the discussion also centered on management of the landfill, and how regional influences like other landfills reaching capacity and closing would impact Denton’s facility. The city has received proposals from junk haulers in the area to bring in an addition 487 tons of waste a day, which would generate $3.1 million. If the city contracted with the haulers, the landfill would be projected to fill up in 2031, instead of 2036 at the current rate of trash now accepted from residents and wholesalers.

Davis said he wants to see proposals on how to create a comprehensive waste reduction strategy and how to manage landfill space.

The talks about solid waste management and additional budget discussions will continue this summer.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.