Public Services Director Kirk Milam said Wednesday the cameras were shut off at midnight on Dec. 31 after Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. declined to renew its contract with the city.
Cameras were installed at the corner of Turner McCall Boulevard and Hicks Drive in 2004, and a pair was added two years ago at the intersection of Martha Berry and Veterans Memorial highways.
But revenue from the $70 fines dropped sharply when a 2008 law sponsored by then-state Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, put tougher restrictions on how the cameras could be used to catch drivers running red lights.
The Hicks Drive cameras alone generated more than $17,000 a month in 2007, but last year Redflex was barely clearing the $4,200 a month it promised to the city.
“We covered our costs, but we didn’t cover theirs,” Rome City Manager John Bennett said.
The company also ended its
contracts to provide camera equipment, software and photo processing for the cities of Thomasville and Brunswick, Bennett said, although deals with Savannah and Griffin were renewed.
Rome officials contended the cameras reduced dangerous T-bone crashes. To keep them running after the new law kicked in, the City Commission accepted a renegotiated contract that essentially gave Redflex all the revenue above the police department’s cost of writing the tickets.
Click here to view a previous report on the city's camera enforcement system.
Redflex crews are expected to remove the equipment by the end of the month, and it is unclear if the city will seek a contract with a different vendor. Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter, public works committee chair, tabled the discussion for at least 90 days to allow enough time to compare safety statistics before and after the cameras’ removal.
Milam said he’s been able to show the safety benefits of the cameras in annual permit applications to the Georgia Department of Transportation — another requirement of the law — but the reviews are increasingly rigorous.
Also on Wednesday, the public works committee recommended raising the price to charter the Toonerville Trolley. The full City Commission is slated to vote on the changes at its Jan. 18 meeting.
If approved, the minimum cost would rise on Feb. 1 to $200 from $150 for a two-hour trip and the base price for holiday rentals would jump to $300 from $200. Charges also would be added if coolers or decorations are part of the excursion.
The old trolley is unreliable and parts are scarce, so officials are trying to limit its use. An earlier resolution adopted by the board bars its rental for wedding parties because of the effect a breakdown could have on the celebration.
Milam and Transit Director Kathy Shealy are working on a proposal to buy a replica trolley with grant funds and operate a regular route in the downtown district.