BROOKSVILLE - Frustrated with the lack of progress in getting red-light cameras removed from the city of Brooksville, County Commissioner Jim Adkins has hatched a plan he hopes will succeed.
With the help of the county attorney's office, Adkins has come up with a proposed city charter revision that would allow registered voters within the city to vote on a referendum in the 2014 general election on whether they want the cameras taken down.
The proposed amendment to the city's municipal charter would prohibit the city from enforcing the red-light camera laws.
Adkins said nothing else has seemed to work. County commissioners about two months ago passed a resolution to try and get the city to remove the cameras on county-owned property.
He's sent emails to Brooksville council members, lobbied state legislators and sought advice from others.
None of it worked, he said.
Adkins said he's received numerous phone calls and letters from Brooksville residents who are fed up with having to drive on roads and worry about getting tickets. And even though he's a county commissioner, Adkins said the city is inside his geographic district.
"I feel obligated to help them," Adkins said.
Adkins said there are three city council members who appear intractable and will not vote for red-light camera removal. He hopes they will not try and block this latest effort.
"If they prevent this from happening, we don't have a charter form of government in Brooksville, we have a dictator form of government," Adkins said.
To make this work, Adkins said a group of city residents would form a political action committee and approach the county supervisor of elections to fill out the necessary paperwork.
Brooksville has 16 cameras set up at eight intersections to monitor drivers who run red lights.
Commissioner Nick Nicholson has said red-light cameras are affecting merchants in downtown Brooksville because potential customers avoid the area.
The charter revision to remove the cameras would require approval from 10 percent of the registered voters from the last election. There were 4,770 voters so that means slightly fewer than 500 city residents would have to pass the charter amendment referendum.
Vice Mayor Kevin Hohn said he would not block a petition process to get a referendum on the ballot.
Hohn said there are strong feelings on the issue on both sides and believes he can easily get 10 percent of the voters to support the red-light cameras on a referendum.
"I can assure Commissioner Adkins and other commissioners we have as many people in favor of the red-light cameras as those who oppose them," he said.
Hohn said this matter brings up a larger question.
"We're waiting to see if the city has home rule authority or does the county override the city's democratic process," Hohn said. "Or does the state legislature override both?"
Hohn said he believes red-light cameras enhance the safety of motorists in the city and there is data to back up that claim.
"We made the decision on principle and we have our reasons," he said. "(County commissioners) disagree and that's fine. That's the great thing about democracy."