We'll have red light cameras to kick around for at least a few more years.
The City Council extended the contract of the company that administers its red-light camera program for three more years Wednesday, aiming to thwart legislation pending in Austin that would sunset the use of the devices.
The ordinance, which passed Wednesday with only two nay votes -- by members Mike Sullivan and Jolanda Jones -- extends the camera program through May 2014. The action was a preemptive effort meant to keep the program active in case a bill in the Legislature succeeds in precluding municipalities from adding the cameras or extending contracts with vendors after June 1, 2009.
The provision was included as an amendment to a bill that already has passed in the House and is expected to be hashed out in the coming days in a conference committee. Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, sponsored the amendment.
The cities of Amarillo, Arlington, Baytown, Fort Worth and Irving all took similar steps to extend their programs, in some cases continuing them for an additional 15 to 20 years.
Mayor Bill White defended the council's action Wednesday.
"The fact is that where we have these cameras, the number of people who are photographed running the red light goes down consistently over time," he said, adding later in a news conference that he believes the cameras will become an integral part of law enforcement all over the U.S. within 10 years.
Burleson extended its agreement with American Traffic Solutions for 15 years, a city official said this week.
The Fort Worth City Council gave the city manager permission this week to immediately sign an extension through 2018 if it appears that the Legislature will imminently approve a ban on future contracts.
North Richland Hills extended its deal with Redflex through 2013.
Last week, Arlington officials gave the city staff permission to sign a new deal with ATS through 2027, and Southlake extended its terms with Redflex through 2024.