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Hialeah Ends Red-Light Camera Program, But Drivers Still Beware

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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HIALEAH (CBS4)- No more red light cameras in Hialeah. The message comes after the city’s mayor and the Hialeah City Council passed a repeal of the ordinance.

But while city attorneys negotiate ending the contract early with the camera-operator, red-light runners in Hialeah should still take care. The city’s red-light camera program is still installed and civil citations may still be issued to red-light runners caught on camera until the kinks are worked out.

Cameras installed at two intersections — West 49th Street and Eighth Avenue and East 55th Street and East Eighth Avenue, or Le Jeune Road — will continue to take photos and issue citations.

Ending the program was a key priority for acting Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who succeeded former mayor Julio Robaina in May. Last year, Hernandez opposed the program, which he called a “taxation to the citizens.”

On Tuesday, the City Council took a final vote, 6-1, to end the program. Councilwoman Vivian Casáls-Muñoz voted against ending the program. She did not respond to calls for comment.

After the meeting, Hernandez reiterated his opposition. “How am I going to support cameras that I believe are illegal and were put there to raise revenues for the state, the city and a private company in Arizona?” he said.

Hernandez said the disapproval from area residents was one of the main reasons for the decisions.

“The citizens of Hialeah have made their opposition to the Red Light Cameras very clear,” he said. “Residents feel this program is just another form of taxation. These cameras take millions of dollars from our local economy, thereby affecting our citizens and businesses. Also, there have been questions by the court regarding the legality of these cameras.   It is important that we, as elected officials, listen to our citizens and act in benefit of our community.”

Hernandez initiated the process to repeal the ordinance in May.

Hialeah still must negotiate terminating the contract with that private company, American Traffic Solutions, or ATS. “That might be some extended negotiations,” said city attorney William Grodnick.

There were two years left in the contract, which was set to end in March 2013. It is unclear how much it will cost the city to terminate the contract early with ATS. “It’s all subject to negotiation,” Grodnick said.

Since Hialeah ramped up the red-light program last year, the city has collected about $100,000-$125,000 in revenue from citations, according to Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton.

At first cameras were installed at two intersections. The city had planned to expand the program, with cameras installed at three other sites: West 12th Avenue and 49th Street; West Eighth Avenue and 21st Street; and West 12th Avenue and Okeechobee Road. Those cameras are not operational, said Carl Zogby, Hialeah Police spokesman.

 

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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