Wednesday, March 28, 2018
By Ed Runyan
By all outward signs, the Bazetta Township trustees are not moving forward any time soon with having Blue Line Solutions of Tennesee provide the township with traffic cameras.
The trustees heard a presentation from Robb Schwartz, Blue Line regional sales consultant, Tuesday at the township hall, who touted the reduced number of traffic crashes and improved road safety after communities begin using the cameras.
He explained signing up with Blue Line and operating its equipment does not cost the township anything, but the township collects 60 percent of the revenue from the tickets.
The cameras are manned by police officers, result in civil fines being mailed to speeders instead of criminal offenses, and the township decides how much to charge for various types of offenses and what amount over the speed limit will be considered an offense.
Trustee Ted Webb asked Schwartz whether he thinks state legislation will pass that attempts to remove state funding from communities that supplement their budgets with traffic camera fines. Schwartz said Blue Line’s lobbyists have assured the company “it will not pass the Senate.”
Trustee Frank Parke said he opposes traffic cameras on principle.
“I think it’s a money grab. I’m not for it,” he said.
Fiscal officer Rita Drew said the bill in Columbus is not specific yet in terms of what funding townships would lose if they have traffic cameras.
By the end of the meeting, Webb said he felt it was premature for the township to make a decision on the cameras until after a decision is made in the General Assembly.
He said depending on how the General Assembly writes the law, Bazetta Township could lose as much as $350,000 per year in state funding.
He thinks that would put a lot of pressure on the police officer working the traffic camera to generate a lot of speeding tickets.
Bazetta Police Chief Mike Hovis said he proposed Blue Line give the presentation because “We definitely have a problem with speed,” but the problem has not resulted in traffic fatalities recently.
Bazetta resident Kevin Kennedy said he thinks traffic cameras “are a terrible way to police.” He said he wants officers to pull people over, allowing them to arrest drug dealers.
Blue Line provides equipment and support for traffic cameras in Weathersfield and Howland townships and Girard. It operates in 20 communities in Ohio, Schwartz said.