… Updated contract scheduled for County Council vote Jan. 17 …
By Jon Meoli, email@example.com
6:03 PM EST, January 12, 2012
If the Baltimore County Council approves a new contract expanding the county’s traffic camera program at its meeting on Jan. 17, it will do so without the support of Towson-area councilman David Marks.
“I can’t vote for it,” said Marks on Thursday, Jan. 12. Marks, a Republican, represents the 5th District, which includes Towson and Perry Hall.
The new contract would add to the number of cameras in Baltimore County.
The county currently has eight red light cameras and 15 speed cameras, with the speed cameras placed in school zones. Under the new contract, seven red light cameras and seven speed cameras would be added in the next five months, and an additional 18 cameras could be added over the duration of the five-year contract.
“I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and I know it’s a fiscal issue,” Marks said, “but I’m not satisfied with the idea that these cameras are in operation after school hours, and the response from my constituents (who have contacted the council office) remains largely negative on the issue.”
Marks and 3rd District Councilman Todd Huff, a fellow Republican who represents Cockeysville and northern Baltimore County, both voted against the bill that lifted a cap on the number of speed cameras allowed in the county in January 2011.
Huff said he was “leaning toward not supporting the contract” because he doesn’t support the program.
“Although I do feel that the contract is a lot better of a contract and it won’t be taking money from our constituents — unless of course they get a ticket — I find it really hard to support,” Huff said Thursday.
“They did a great job of protecting the assets of the county as far as making sure money isn’t coming out of (Police) Chief (Jim) Johnson’s funds or the general fund to support the program, but I have a hard time voting for the contract when I’m not in support of the program to start with,” Huff said.
Nevertheless, both expect the council to pass the new contract with ACS State and Local Solutions — which currently provides the county with its traffic cameras.
Marks said the contract under consideration “is a much better contract than the existing one,” and said he believes the bidding was done openly and fairly. But despite the terms of the deal, Marks said he couldn’t approve a contract for something he has already voted against.
“For me, it’s just a policy call,” Marks said.
At the council’s work session on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Huff questioned the Keith Dorsey, the county’s director of budget and finance, on the financial sustainability of the new contract.
Huff said that under the old contract, $147,000 in taxpayer money was paid to ACS. The old contract paid ACS a flat rate per camera, and at one point, as much as 90 percent of the revenue collected from the program went to ACS.
But under the new contract, ACS will receive a percentage of each ticket issued once the ticket is paid.
The council is scheduled to vote on the contract at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the County Courthouse at 6 p.m.