TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - The City of Toledo has temporarily won a fight to keep red light cameras operating across the city.
A state law signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich that was suppose to take effect Monday would've required law enforcement to be present at the cameras while issuing a citation.
The city argued in a lawsuit that it would violate "home rule" rights -- or the rights of the city to govern locally. Which is why Lucas County Judge Mandros ruled to temporarily stop the enforcement of the state law.
Some Toledo drivers say the red light cameras are just another way to get ticketed.
"I think that it has caused more accidents," said Toledo resident Sharon Hightower.
"I don't think they really need the cameras," said resident Jerry Dotson.
City officials says the traffic cameras are a source of revenue and a safety mechanism to help prevent accidents.
"We as a city will be aggressive in trying to retain the use of these cameras. We have, I do believe, 20 or 40 some cameras in 22 different sites and it is revenue-generated, but it's also for the safety of our citizens," said Councilman Larry Sykes.
The city's Director of Finance George Sarantou says this year's budget is depending on the revenue from those tickets.
"We budgeted a total of $3.2 million. Of that we think approximately a million dollars will come from past red light fines that have not been paid," said Sarantou.
That is in comparison to last year, when the city brought in a total of $2.2 million dollars in red light citation fines.
Sarantou says public safety is also an issue at hand. City officials say these cameras have reduced accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
"It is a valuable deterrent and if people know where these red lights are and these cameras, certainly they will pay attention and hopefully decrease the accidents. But at the same time, you're still going to have those that run red lights and that is a source of revenue," said Sarantou.
He says legal battle is far from over and a final order will have to be issued in the coming weeks. And even then the ruling can still be appealed.
"Obviously we know that this legal battle will continue, but as we stated in court it is an issue of home rule and under the constitution in the state of Ohio we have every right to do this. And again, this is for public safety," said Sarantou.
This is only a temporary order. Right now the city is in the process of filing a legal brief this week.
Judge Mandos will make his final decision after receiving briefs from both sides, but after that the outcome will still be subject to appeal.
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