Red-light camera

A red-light camera sits at the intersection of South Loop 288 and Interstate 35E in Denton. The red-light camera program is no more after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Sunday that outlaws the practice.

If you have an unpaid ticket from a red-light camera in Denton, hold on to that $75. You’re likely not going to have to pay it, if City Council members have their way.

On Monday, city leaders discussed what to do about Denton’s red-light camera program after Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 1631, which outlaws such programs throughout the state.

Although the law allows the city to enforce payment on its remaining red-light camera citations, which number 4,700 or so, council members say they do not want to make people pay for them.

Denton will soon rip up all those tickets and say goodbye to the program for good. How exactly that will happen still needs to be sorted out.

While there was no official vote on the matter Monday, council members told city staff to prepare an ordinance that would bring an earlier end to Denton’s contract with Redflex Camera Systems, which has done business with the city since 2005. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance during its regularly scheduled meeting on June 11.

Five council members — Mayor Chris Watts and council member Paul Metlzer were absent — agreed Monday that it’s time for Redflex to leave earlier than demanded by HB 1631.

“I’m in the same boat in not wanting to collect it,” council member Keely Briggs said of the outstanding tickets and fines. “It’s going to be difficult to get our residents to pay the bill knowing that there’s this legislation saying that we’re not going to have [the cameras] anymore.”

The cameras will continue to flash, but HB 1631 prohibits issuing any more citations. So none of them will count against drivers.

It will cost the city money to terminate the current contract that expires July 20. But, officials said Monday that it won’t cost much more than what the city is already paying Redflex each month to operate the cameras. About $540,000 flows from the city to the company each year to keep the cameras clicking.

“I’m in favor of just letting it go,” council member John Ryan said.

But drivers still run red lights. Proponents of red-light cameras have said for years that they prevent ghastly crashes from occurring, while opponents say they add to the danger when people slam on the brakes to avoid getting a camera ticket.

Council member Deb Armintor asked for city engineers to continue to explore ways to keep people safe at intersections. Briggs again suggested extending the length of yellow lights at troublesome intersections.

“What are good ways to safely prevent people from running red lights?” Armintor said.

In other action

The council is exploring whether to give a pay raise to workers who are contracted by the city. But judging by Monday’s meeting, it looks like the road ahead will be long and winding.

Armintor and Briggs favor giving contracted employees a slight pay raise to earn a more “livable wage,” while fellow council members Ryan, Jesse Davis and Gerard Hudspeth are so far hesitant to do so, asking for more information before the matter comes up for a vote.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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