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Winter Springs removes red-light cameras over conflict with contractor

Updated:

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - WFTV found out the city of Winter Springs quietly took down its red-light cameras several months ago.

As we've reported in the past, officials have said they put up the controversial cameras for safety, not money.
So WFTV's Bianca Castro asked why a contract dispute put an end to the cameras.

For several years, the cameras caught red-light runners in the act. They were at two intersections on 434 at Winding Hollow and Vistawilla.

Now there's no evidence they were ever there.

The city had them quietly taken down in December after it couldn't agree on contract terms with the vendor, ATS.

Part of the issue was how much the vendor got for monitoring the intersections.

A ticket came with a $158 fine, $83 of that went to the state. The majority of the rest of the money went to the vendor, leaving the city just a few dollars.

But people eventually stopped running red lights and for several months, the city didn't get a dime.

"Did the city get rid of the program because it wasn't making money?" asked Castro.

"No, absolutely not," said Kevin Brunelle, Winter Springs police chief. "We would rather see zero revenue but total compliance, that's what our goal was."

The police chief insists the cameras have always been about safety, not money. And he said the cameras will be back, possibly in a few months. Until then, it's back to old-fashioned traffic stops.

"I thought it was a good thing. We have quite a few wrecks in the past at this intersection and I wish they still had them," said driver Diane Hanschu.

Winter Springs police have written 34 tickets to red-light runners since the cameras have been off line. One of those tickets comes with a $264 fine.

The city of Orlando has been defending itself in a lawsuit over red-light cameras. The lawsuit claims the city's red-light ordinance conflicted with state traffic laws, before the state approved the cameras in 2010.

The city's now appealing the case to the state supreme court, but if that fails they may be forced to refund thousands of dollars in fines.