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Red-Light Fines Stir Hot Debate

By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
    City councilors hotly debated a proposal Monday for reducing the fines for people caught on camera running red lights, but councilors delayed a decision until a later meeting.
    Councilor Ken Sanchez modified his proposal. He previously had suggested no fine for a first offense, but he's now calling for a fine of $89, which would be a reduction from $100 under current law.
    He wants a fine of $150 for a second offense within a year, instead of the current fine of $250 for a second offense within two years. He wants a fine of $200 for a third or subsequent offense within a year, instead of $500 for a third or subsequent offense within two years.
    Sanchez said the current fines are "just too high."
    "The average person in our community doesn't make that kind of money to be paying this type of fine. I think the fines are excessive," Sanchez said.
    Councilor Craig Loy said he would not support a reduction in fines. He said the red-light camera program is a success and is saving lives.
    "To reduce these fines— that's outrageous," he said.
    Loy also strongly disagreed with the idea of considering a second or third offense only if it occurs within a year of the original citation. The law now considers subsequent offenses within two years.
    Councilor Michael Cadigan said he would not support a fine higher than $50 for a first offense. A $50 fine "would be enough to get somebody's attention," he said.
    Councilors also delayed action on a proposal from Sanchez that would prohibit the city from increasing the number of red-light cameras for six months.