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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Cameras may go on ballot


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BROOKSVILLE - County Commissioner Dave Russell is confident the majority of people in Hernando County oppose red-light cameras and wants to prove it by asking voters when they go to the polls in the November 2014 general election.

Russell got consensus from his colleagues Tuesday to hold a public hearing to discuss the language of a resolution backing such a referendum.

The referendum would not affect the city of Brooksville, where red-light cameras are in effect.

But if an overwhelming majority opposes the cameras, Russell said it would send a message to legislators and anyone with decision-making powers that such devices are not wanted here.

"This gives the public the opportunity to express strategically the outrage that I hear from (them)," Russell said. "Folks are really fired up about this, unlike any other issue I've been involved with."

Brooksville has 16 cameras set up at eight intersections to monitor drivers who run red lights.

City Council members' intent was to instill safe driving habits.

In April, there were 1,481 paid citations from red-light camera violators. Of the $233,998 in revenue, $122,923 went to the state, $55,537 to the city of Brooksville and $55,537 to Sensys America, the camera company.

Proponents of red-light cameras, now being used in 24 states, say it will cut down on traffic violators and is a boon to law enforcement.

Brooksville Police Chief George Turner said recently statistics show the number of traffic accidents is down wherever cameras are employed and Brooksville is no exception. In 2009-10, the first year of usage, total crashes were down 35 percent, he said.

Resident Chuck Gordon told the board it may not be popular but he supports red-light cameras.

There is already far too much texting while driving and drinking and driving, he said. People don't want to be accountable for bad behavior and want to be able to run red lights with impunity, he said.

"This is what our country has become," Gordon said. "It's I, me, myself and forget about the other guy. Cameras won't stop everyone from doing it but we ought to take care of it."

Commissioner Nick Nicholson said red-light cameras are affecting merchants in downtown Brooksville because potential customers avoid the area.

(352) 544-5290

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