The City of Tonawanda moved a step closer Tuesday to installing red light cameras at three intersections, which would make it the first municipality in the area to have the devices.
The Common Council unanimously approved a resolution allowing City Attorney Ronald C. Trabucco and Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi to sign an agreement with Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems, which manages programs for many municipalities across the country. The city still would need authorization from state lawmakers and would have to enact its own local ordinance.
All of the current Council members and several incoming elected officials – including Mayor-elect Rick Davis – support the measure. No one spoke for or against it during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
“The cameras will not cost the city anything,” incoming 4th Ward Alderwoman Jenna N. Koch said. “In fact, we will get monthly reports on how much revenue it will generate for the city.”
Under the terms of the contract, Redflex would receive a fixed monthly fee of $4,350 for each of the six cameras – one each in north and southbound directions – from the $50 fines paid by drivers. Any fines over that amount would go to the city. Redflex would be responsible for maintaining the equipment.
City police have identified the intersections of Niagara and Seymour Streets, Delaware and Broad streets and Twin City Memorial Highway and Young Street as particularly dangerous and in need of cameras to enforce existing traffic laws.
“You take your life in your hands when you cross those streets,” said incoming 2nd Ward Alderwoman Jackie A. Smilinich.
She said city officials became convinced of the need for cameras about six weeks ago when they viewed sample monitoring footage of the intersections by Redflex that showed repeated violations.
“We watched the videos and people just kept going through – red, red, red – and we’re talking semi trucks,” she said. “We’re not even just talking a little car. We’re talking big, huge trucks.”
Council President Carleton R. Zeisz said police will have oversight of the program.
“The police chief ultimately gets to view all the infractions and can make the determination on whether or not to move ahead with each individual case,” he said.
The City of Buffalo in 2009 and 2011 proposed installing red light cameras but abandoned those plans after opposition by some Common Council members,who called the devices a “money grab.” Rochester in October 2010 became the nearest municipality to implement a red light camera program.