Apopka’s Biggest Stories of 2018: Red light cameras go dark

first_imgShare on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Opinion/AnalysisBy Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka VoiceEditor’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2018 that were the most noteworthy events of the year. The Apopka Voice will publish them starting today and running until Sunday, December 30th. On December 31st and January 1st, we will publish a poll and let the readers decide on which story is the most impactful of the year.First published on August 16th, 2018“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore…”-Richard Nixon Like an unwanted guest who overstays his welcome, the red light camera program was ridiculed, insulted and threatened before finally being run out of town on a rail. Perhaps the Museum of the Apopkans will keep one of the cameras around for historic symbolism, but otherwise by January 1st, 2019 the RLC’s will be nothing more than a memory.The Apopka City Council, at its meeting last night, voted 5-0 to end the red light camera program before a full house at Council chambers. It took about 60 minutes of public comments, discussion and votes to end the 12-year program. The unanimous vote brought loud applause from the mostly anti-RLC crowd.You won’t have red light cameras to kick around anymore.But before public comments began, Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker wanted to dispell a theory within the community and online about balancing the budget based on revenues from the RLC program. “When you look at the budget… the proposed budget that we received at our workshop, you have in there $463,000 in revenue through the end of December and with corresponding expenses which is the cost of service back to ATS of $300,000. So the difference is $163,000 of net revenue that we would see. One of the things I’ve heard in the community and through some of the media sources is if we extend this another year it’s going to solve our gap woes and that’s simply not the case if you use the number that’s in our budget worksheet. If you project that $163,000 for the remaining three quarters that adds up to $489,000. So it doesn’t address the $775,000 that we’re currently projecting on the budget that we were proposed at the workshop. So I just want to squash that idea pretty quickly.”Editor’s Note: According to a statement by City Administrator Edward Bass at the July 5th budget workshop, net revenues of the RLC program are approximately $800,000-$900,000 per year. That figure along with a half-mill increase to the millage rate (which brings in an additional $1.4-$1.5 million) was what The Apopka Voice drew its conclusions from for its budget suggestions.Frank Drescher, an Orlando resident and former Ocoee police officer who was representing the RLC vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS), warned the Council about the safety ramifications this vote might have. “It’s critical everyone understand the impact of the decision tonight. The safety program that has been endorsed by your police department professionals is used not only as a safety tool to catch red-light violators, who break the law and put your community at risk, but it is also used as a crime prevention and apprehension tool as numerous videos have been used to identify criminals, all at no cost to the city taxpayers as this is a violator funded program. As you make your decision tonight, I hope you make safety your first priority. Seatbelts save lives. Airbags save lives. And red light cameras save lives.William Gussler, an Apopka resident, pushed back on Drescher’s assessment that the program focused on safety. “A couple of things I’d like to respond to from the distinguished gentleman from ATS that caught my attention right away… I know he is a former police officer from Ocoee. But he did mention his concern coming over here and making sure his kids were safe. He’s well paid by ATS to be here. It’s not motivated by his concern for safety and that’s the basis of my point here. It’s not about safety it’s about the profits and that’s not why we’re here and that’s not why we put them in in the first place.”Derek Ryan, an Apopka resident and longtime opponent of RLC’s, believes the program is unnecessary government intervention. “As a landscape salesman covering central Florida, I travel the roads at a rate of 3 to 4 times the typical driver. Because of this, on occasion, I received what I refer to as a “bomb threat letter” in the mail with a picture of my license plate along with some very intimidating words telling me that I recently committed a horrible sin of driving through a red light and hurting no person or no property. Every time I receive these bomb threats I fight them and I beat them because they have no legal leg to stand on. They are typical government intimidation to raise revenue and when the government tries to solve problems, there are always unintended consequences.”Glen Chancy, an Apopka resident who ran for Mayor of Apopka in 2014 advocating against the red light cameras, also challenged the assertion that it was a safety program.  “If this is really a safety program why aren’t we willing to fund it with taxpayer dollars? So if we are not willing to fund it with taxpayer dollars, if we require a positive return, then are we really talking about safety? What other safety programs are we willing to cut? None. But this we can.”Rod Olson of Apopka was the final speaker and only advocate for red light cameras outside of the ATS representative. “I’m quoting the Insurance Institute of Highway safety ‘red light cameras reduce injury crashes by 25%’. The Federal Highway Administration says right-angle crashes show a 22% injury versus a 2% injury rate because of rear-end crashes. The Centers for Disease Control says red light camera increases rear-end crashes but reduces side-impact crashes and reduces overall crash severity. Safety I think is the most important thing.”Commissioner Alice Nolan, who at the July 5th budget workshop proposed the idea of using RLC revenues to balance the budget after receiving numerous emails and phone calls in support of the program, was swayed by the overwhelming amount of calls and emails she received after that initial proposal. “I got a lot of emails and phone calls from the citizens and I appreciate it because when it comes to something like this I do want to hear from you guys. Even if we differ in opinions I really do want to hear from you because, in the end, that’s how we have to vote.”Commissioner Doug Bankson, who also called for using RLC revenue over a millage rate increase in the July 5th workshop, was also swayed by the overwhelming will of the people. “Slamdunk. It is the will of the people. That’s what determines what we decide. The information is also what we have to factor in, and you know it’s a moving target. You read some reports and they’re this way and others they’re the other way. The challenge with this is it’s not a scientific poll so where do we get that information? We don’t have a general source of that from the people. Quite honestly I’ve heard from people on both sides of the fence, so both arguments are passionate. For me personally, I don’t like red light cameras but I don’t like speed limits either. It goes back to what’s best for us and what do the people want? The best that I can poll for myself, draw from online polls and all of these different things is it seems to be the will of the people, so the other things to me are a moot point. Discussions about revenue are an important thing, but I just want the citizens to have the right information and then they tell us what they want our community to reflect and represent. I’ve been convinced the majority of people want to see red light cameras gone and that’s what moves my decision.” Commissioner Alexander Smith had no speeches but made his intention clear. “I’m ready to vote.” Becker also pointed out the initial goal of the program and how those numbers increased over the last few years. “With a reduction in Violation Notices being the primary goal… in 2014 there were 22,283 violations… in 2015 there were 23,204… in 2016 there were 31,773. In 2017, there was still 26,602, but according to ATS, we had eight cameras off so it may have been flat or maybe even an increase. And even if we’re going to extend this for a period of time it’s not going to solve our budget gap. In fact, we have several cameras that are taking a loss. They don’t even pay for themselves and why would we do that? If we wanted a program like this we would fund it out of the general fund. There are just too many things that don’t add up to reveal itself as having the safety impact that people think it has.” Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson, who ran against the RLC program in the 2018 mayoral election, made the final case for balancing the budget without RLC revenues. “Obviously I ran on getting rid of red light cameras for a lot of reasons. I also voted for red light cameras back when I was in the Legislature, and I don’t regret my vote… and then a couple years later I proposed a bill to try to take some of the sting out of what the red light cameras did, and one of those things was to put a ticket on the tag so you wouldn’t lose your drivers license if you didn’t pay the ticket. But as for the budget, we look at revenue and we look at the budget… But I’ll tell you when we look at last year’s budget including red light cameras we took out $1.3 million from reserves to balance the budget. We also took out an additional $2 million in loans to balance the budget. This year which includes only three months of red light camera money… and we’re going to add $600,000 in additional debt not from this Council, but we’ve still reduced our budget by $900,000 so we’re getting close to a balanced budget without red light camera revenue after January 1st… So I think when you look at even the revenue side… I think we can get to a point where we feel comfortable with a very, very small tax increase. It may be a slight one and still keep us under Orange County without revenue coming in from red light cameras. Please enter your name here The Anatomy of Fear You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 TAGSApopka City CouncilRed Light Camera Program Previous articleApopka’s Biggest Stories of 2018: APD’s Captain Miller graduates from FBI AcademyNext articleA country mouse visits a city without restrooms Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply Please enter your comment! Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.last_img read more

#BREAKING River searches to resume for man in his 30s

first_imgLinkedin Print Email WhatsApp Facebook Twittercenter_img Fireswift, The Limerick City Fire and Rescue boatAndrew [email protected] up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up SEARCHES are to resume for a male who was seen entering the water at the River Shannon during the early hours of this Monday morning.The alarm was raised shortly after 01:45 when Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to a report of a male in his early 30’s seen entering the water at Thomond Bridge.Theee units of the service attended the scene.Within 4 minutes of receiving the call, The Fire Service launched their Rescue Boat – “FireSwift” with 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technicans on board.Limerick Marine Search and Rescue members were also on scene to carry out searches.An extensive search was launched involving all responders including Fire Service SRT ground crews, Gardai, Paramedics and Coast Guard including the Shannon based R115 Helicopter and Limerick Marine Search and Rescue which lasted over two hours, however the person was not located.Searches will recommence this Monday morning. Advertisement NewsBreaking news#BREAKING River searches to resume for man in his 30sBy Staff Reporter – January 25, 2016 632 Previous articleChallenging times for international class Limerick Jazz SocNext articleGAA – CLUB Limerick Draw 2016 is up and running Staff Reporterhttp://www.limerickpost.ielast_img read more

‘Excessive de-risking’ holding back long-term investment, IA warns

first_imgThe UK’s investment management association has unveiled an action plan aimed at boosting long-term investment to solve the country’s “productivity puzzle”.Its proposed actions include working with the UK pensions regulator and industry association to improve stewardship, as well as investigating whether pension funds are being forced to de-risk too much.The Investment Association (IA) said the UK government welcomed its action plan, referenced by chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the 2016 Budget last week.It will formally update the chancellor on progress on the first and third anniversaries of the plan’s publication. The action plan, which aims to “catalyse the provision of long-term finance and enhance investor stewardship”, is built on an analysis of the barriers to long-term investment and the role investors can play in lowering these.Andrew Ninian, director of corporate governance at the Investment Association, said improving productivity required long-term investment by UK businesses.“The action plan seeks to deliver ambitious and achievable remedies to the ills of some of the most serious causes of short-term thinking in the British economy,” he said.“The investment industry remains steadfast in its commitment to play its part in fixing the UK productivity puzzle and help fix the challenge of our generation.”The plan has five principal objectives, underpinned by 12 recommendations in turn based on proposals for “a series of tangible actions”.It calls on various actors to take action, from companies and investment consultants to asset owners.Listed companies, for example, should stop reporting quarterly and instead focus on “a broader range of strategic issues”.Asset managers, meanwhile, should be supported in their public reporting of stewardship activities.The IA also called for changes to the way in which the relationship between asset owners and investment managers is governed so that it does not “inadvertently embed a short-term focus”.It has, therefore, proposed to work with The Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) and investment consultants “to develop best-practice guidance on how stewardship and long-term incentives can be better incorporated into the Statement of Investment Principles and Mandate design”.Investment consultants should publicly set out how their activities “support the provision of long-term investment approaches and stewardship in mandate design and performance evaluation”, added the IA.Having found that defined contribution (DC) pension schemes face barriers to making long-term investments, the IA also proposed establishing a working group “to consider the key regulatory and market barriers to creating a DC investment environment more suited to long-term investment”.One of the reasons why longer-term financing is not reaching the UK economy, according to the IA, is that solvency and prudential regulation are leading to excessive de-risking in asset allocation.However well-meaning prudential regulation is, it contains an “over-emphasis on short-term market risk”, said the IA.This “embed[s] a focus on volatility and benchmark tracking error in the governance of investment strategies deployed”.This diagnosis is behind further actions proposed by the IA, one of which is to convene a working group “to review the extent to which current accounting standards and solvency and prudential regulatory requirements may be resulting in excessive de-risking by insurers and pension funds and impeding the provision of longer terms of finance”. Longer-term forms of capital, according to the IA, include equity, infrastructure and private placements.TPR balancing act The IA’s action plan contains “a number of interesting recommendations which we will consider further”, a spokesperson at The Pensions Regulator told IPE. “We already support economic growth by encouraging a balanced approach to the funding of defined benefit pension schemes – benefiting businesses and strengthening security for pensions,” added the spokesperson. “Employers’ ability to invest in long-term sustainable growth is balanced with our objectives to protect members’ accrued benefits and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).”On the topic of DC pension schemes, the spokesperson referred to the regulator’s new code of practice and supporting guides, “which will set out our expectations of trustees in governing their scheme’s investments, and provide helpful guidance to assist them in meeting the challenges in this area.The code is expected to be laid in Parliament in May, and comes into force in July, according to TPR. The PLSA, meanwhile, “looks forward” to contributing its members’ perspective to the IA’s programme, said Luke Hildyard, policy lead on stewardship and corporate governance at the PLSA. “All investors need to take a long-term perspective when undertaking their investments and the Association has consistently promoted responsible, long-term investment stewardship,” he told IPE.  He referred to work already carried out by the PLSA in this area, such as a recent report highlighting the importance of better corporate reporting of human capital and its stewardship disclosure frameworks for asset managers to set out their approach to prospective pension fund clients.last_img read more