Councilman Carl Stokes seeks investigation of speed camera programs

BALTIMORE - A Baltimore City Councilman is calling for an investigation into the city's red light and speed camera programs after learning of a secret city audit of the program that revealed an error rate of 10 percent among the cameras.

Councilman Carl Stokes, who is chair of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, will introduce a resolution at Monday's council meeting seeking the investigation and the city's Law Department's role and actions involving those programs.

"This is beyond outrageous," said Stokes in a statement. "The audit of the program was paid for by the citizens of Baltimore and the citizens should be able to view the audits findings. It took a whistle blower to leak excerpts from the report. We want to see the entire audit."

AAA Mid-Atlantic shares Stokes' frustration over the audit, which was first reported by The Baltimore Sun . City officials have refused to make the audit available for the general public, citing the potential for litigation between the city and Xerox State and Local Solutions, which ran the camera program. The city shut the cameras down in April.

"While we recognize there may have been legal reasons preventing City officials from releasing the audit, the speed camera program impacts thousands of motorists and therefore, the public has a right to be informed of the audit's findings," stated Ragina Cooper-Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman and member of the Mayor's Task Force on Automated Enforcement.

The problems with the speed cameras are just the latest fiscal issue to impact city residents.

This includes an audit that uncovered that thousands of customers were paying water bills that were either or whose meters were not read at all leading to some paying next to nothing while others paid hundreds more than they should have.

Then, there was the historic tax credits that were incorrectly assessed forcing the city to set aside millions of dollars to repay property owners.

Stokes wants to offer complete amnesty of all tickets that were issued during this period and those that were paid should be given a complete refund. According to The Sun's report, the city issued roughly 700,000 speed camera tickets at $40 each in Fiscal Year 2012, and it's estimated that 70,000 of those tickets were wrongly assessed.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office issued a statement late Thursday night downplaying the audit.

"This document is an inconclusive report that does not reflect any final conclusions about the accuracy of the speed camera program, as is noted on page seven," the statement read. "It is false to insinuate that the City sought to keep the public in the dark when we acted quickly to take the speed camera program offline due to errors, voided erroneous citations and provided refunds to impacted residents.

"The idea that there are more problems than have already been made public are not supported by this document. The Mayor has been clear that the program will remain offline until we can vouch for its accuracy."

 

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