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The Suburbanite
  • Canton Council rejects traffic cameras

  • The mayor’s traffic camera proposal drew strong reactions at Monday night’s Canton City Council meeting. Council rejected the legislation 7-5. Without the additional revenue, Mayor William J. Healy II said the layoff of some police officers and firefighters is highly likely early next year.

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  • City Council rejected the mayor’s traffic camera proposal 7-5 Monday night.
    Following heated discussion and debate, both in the Democratic caucus meeting and on the floor, the quest to push through speeding and red-light cameras fell flat for the second time in the roughly five years since Mayor William J. Healy II took office.
    The plan was a key component in Healy’s plan to erase a $3.7 million deficit he projected for the 2013 general fund budget.
    According to the mayor, traffic cameras would generate an estimated $1 million annually for the general fund, which supports the police and fire departments, the offices of elected officials and some other areas.
    “It’s disappointing,” Healy said. “I’d much rather collect money from those breaking (traffic laws) than raising taxes (on the entire public).”
    The legislation would have given the safety director the authority to enter into an agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems.
    Opposing the cameras were Council members James Griffin, D-3; Mary Cirelli, D-at large; Greg Hawk, D-1; Kevin Fisher, D-5; John Mariol II, D-7; Edmond Mack, D-8; and Frank Morris, D-9.
    During the caucus meeting, Morris asked to postpone the issue to allow more time to review the draft agreement with Redflex, which council members received in recent days.
    “I’m getting beat around like a tennis ball on this from my constituents,” Morris said.
    Several residents spoke out about the cameras. A few in support. A few against.
    Minus the traffic-camera revenue and without a dramatic boost in the local economy, Healy said “the odds are incredibly high” the city administration will lay off some police officers and firefighters early next year.
    Still, the city’s budget picture is better than originally forecast by Healy. The mayor said the $3.7 million may now stand closer to $2 million. He cited a larger-than-anticipated carryover and the implementation of some portions of his budget plan, including paying street lighting costs with capital improvement dollars.
    Council members who opposed the measure said too many questions were left unanswered on precisely how the five-year contract would work with Redflex Traffic Systems.
    Both Councilman Kevin Fisher, D-5, and Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, D-at large, said they considered traffic cameras to be in conflict with the constitution.
    “You are guilty until proven innocent,” Fisher said.
    Cirelli also complained that contracting with Redflex would equivocate to outsourcing because of the company’s Australian operations. The company also has offices in the United States, including Arizona.
    Mack said the burden of collecting unpaid traffic citations could fall on the city. He also said the city risked owing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more if Redflex sued the city over the contract.
    Canton City Council meeting
    Page 2 of 2 - Monday meeting
    PUBLIC SPEAKS  Heard resident Kathy Conde ask City Council where the outrage is over the mayor’s improper use of a government-related credit card.
    Conde is the wife of A.R. “Chip” Conde, a Republican mayoral candidate who challenged Healy in the last election.
    Kathy Conde, a longtime Democrat, said she was speaking for herself, not her husband, adding that she was “embarrassed” to be a Democrat “in this city and in this county.”
    Healy improperly used a Canton Community Improvement Corp. credit card for personal purchases 16 times between July 7 and Aug. 7. Healy said he got the credit card mixed up with his personal ones, calling it an “embarrassment.”