Red light cameras scrapped in Royal Palm Beach

ROYAL PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Council members in Royal Palm Beach voted unanimously to scrap their red light camera ordinance.

Thursday night's vote about the cameras was more or less a formality; it goes to show, Royal Palm Beach is taking a different path than cities like West Palm Beach.

Officials say these cameras are about safety, but they can also bring in a lot of money. It's the risk they pose, however, that's keeping them turned off in.

Like many municipalities in South Florida, red light cameras already sit perched on utility poles in Royal Palm Beach ready to catch traffic light scofflaws.

But, unlike some local towns and cities, these cameras won't be working anytime soon. "Why get into a fight that you just can't win?" said Royal Palm Beach Mayor Matty Mattioli.

The town was ready to turn on the cameras and start issuing tickets more than a year ago explained Mattioli. But things got complicated when lawsuits started showing up at city halls across the country.

Upset drivers suing cities, like West Pam Beach and Orlando, saying the cameras aren't fair. And even with a new state law in Florida -- meant to settle any legal issues -- Mattioli says he and the town council still want to wait. "If there are lawsuits going around that this is illegal, why are we getting into it? Lets wait until the law suits are settled. Yes you can do it. No you can't do it."

The cameras are supposed to deter drivers from running red lights, and, in turn, make intersections, like Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, safer.

But council members say they're not yet convinced they work.

Plus, Village Manager Ray Liggins says the new law also takes away some of the financial incentive.

The state now gets about $85 from the $158 fine. "Our council was not convinced of that risk and reward," said Liggins. "They weren't convinced of that risk and reward as it related to the safety, and they weren't convinced of the risk and reward as it relates to the financial risk of the village."

There's still a chance someday the cameras may be turned on, and the village manager says it's up to the contractor who installed the cameras to take them down. They city has no further obligation.

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