In a 5-2 vote, the Morristown City Council on Tuesday approved a revised contract with Redflex Traffic Systems – a company that installs citation-generating cameras - that gives Redflex a larger slice of a much smaller pie.
Previously, Redflex received $32 of a $50 ticket. From now on, Redflex will get $36.50, but the game has drastically changed.
Beginning Aug. 4, the cameras at the intersections of West Andrew Johnson Highway and Highway 160; WAJ and Morris Boulevard; Morris and Cumberland Street; and East Morris Boulevard and Haun Drive, stopped generating speeding-related citations, according to Morristown City Attorney Lauren Carroll.
The cameras at intersections will remain in place, but they will only issue citations – tickets that must be validated by the Morristown Police Department – for running red lights.
Cameras on Highway 160 and on Highway 25E will be removed.
State law now prevents companies like Redflex from issuing speeding violations. The practice continued in Morristown because city government had a valid contract with Redflex, according to Carroll.
Councilmember Bob Garrett says the most important thing ticket recipients need to remember is that they don’t have to pay the $50. The tickets do not count at points against a driver’s license, and while Redflex can seek to recover the costs in civil court, he knows of no instance where that has occurred.
Councilmember Chris Bivens characterized the camera-generated citations as “fee-grabbing.” Bivens says if city government were serious about safety, they would have put the cameras in school zones.
After the traffic cameras were installed, crash fatalities dropped dramatically inside the Morristown city limits, according to the Morristown Police Department. The traffic cameras that generated the most revenue, by far, were the ones formerly located on Highway 25-E between the Walmart-dominated Crockett Square shopping center and Walters State Community College.
Overall, Redflex had a collection rate of about 50 percent. The tickets for running red lights were more commonly paid than ones for speeding, according to city officials. Prior to Aug. 4, the cameras were generating approximately 7,400 tickets each year, according to Morristown Police Chief Roger Overholt.