A speed camera near Duval Field

In last night’s Council meeting, the City Council  approved a motion opposing State Bill that seeks changes how a municipality would operated speed cameras in its jurisdiction areas.

This bill (HB 929 – MOTOR VEHICLES – SPEED MONITORING SYSTEMS – LOCAL JURISDICTIONS) , currently under consideration by the Maryland House of Delegates, originally provided only that a “duly authorized officer” can monitor citations issued by speed cameras, but some amendments have been proposed to prohibit local jurisdictions from using speed camera vendors who receive payment based on the number of citations issued, and to require that the picture taken of the vehicle demonstrate the speed at which the vehicle is moving.

This would require College Park to significantly alter the equipment used in its speed camera program, which currently only uses the pictures to demonstrate which vehicle is traveling past the cameras when the speed measurement is taken, and uses a laser detection system to detect the speed.

It would also provide a potential windfall to the speed camera operators, because it would require the City to pay a set, level fee for use of the speed cameras, even as the number of speed camera citations has decreased heavily. Because the speed camera operators put in a certain amount of work for each citation issued, this would require the City to pay the operator a set amount even when the number of citations – and the work burden from the contractor – is less.

If these amendments are going forward, the Council will consider a position in opposition to the Bill. The Maryland Municipal League and Maryland Association of Counties have proposed some amendments that might take the place of these to require additional oversight over the program and ensure that calibration of the systems is done by an independent third party (which it currently is in College Park – the speed cameras are calibrated by the police).

Another amendment provides that, if a vendor oversees the speed camera program (as opposed to the local government) the vendor may not charge a per-citation fee. Other proposed amendments would require that the City issue warnings only for 15 days when posting a speed camera in an area not previously advertised and require that a speed camera technician (not just speed camera operator, which is currently required) by made available for a hearing when a person challenges the citation issued. MML and MACO find that these amendments are acceptable alternatives to those that were proposed.