Baltimore Co. Speed Cameras Deal Studied

November 02, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

Baltimore County officials hope to piggyback on Montgomery County's existing contract for the lease and installation of speed-monitoring cameras. The County Council is to review the proposal, estimated to cost $179,925 a month, at its session Monday.

Montgomery County's contract was awarded through a competitive process to ACS State & Local Solutions Inc., one of four bidders.

The Dallas-based company would install the cameras at 15 county school locations, determined by Baltimore County police, and provide citation processing, statistical reporting, site assessments and maintenance. The contract would commence with the council's approval and continue through Feb. 8, when the county would have the option to renew for two additional one-year periods.

"The county intends to renew the contract in February and then, at a yet-to-be-determined future date, put this contract out to competitive bid," said Don Mohler, county spokesman. "We also will determine whether to lease or purchase the cameras."

Each camera would cost about $100,000 to purchase. The initial months of the contract will give the county time to gather data on the camera operations and determine which option to pursue.

"Right now, we just don't have enough data to put out an intelligent bid," Mohler said.

Councilman T. Bryan McIntire criticized the contract, saying it was "not an open, aboveboard, competitive bid." Nothing prevents the county from seeking bids at a later date, officials said.

"We have no reason to question the validity or openness of the Montgomery County bid," said Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. "This way makes sense if your goal is collecting experienced data before a new bid."

With council approval, it will likely be 60 days, the first of next year, before the cameras are operational, officials said. For the first month, motorists who exceed the posted speed limit in school zones by 12 mph will receive a warning. After 30 days, the speeders will face a $40 fine. The cost per camera is $11,440, with each expected to generate an estimated monthly revenue of $14,400.

Kamenetz said the criticism that the speed camera program is a revenue grab is not valid. Experience has shown that citations decrease as the public becomes more aware of the cameras.

"I am satisfied with being revenue-neutral but am wary about a revenue deficit," Kamenetz said.

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