Mayor Annise Parker has proposed a $4.78 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by American Traffic Solutions over the abrupt end of the City of Houston's red light camera program.
In November 2010, Houston voters opted to turn off the cameras, although the city's contract with ATS runs through May 2015.
In a statement released Saturday night, the mayor said the settlement funds will come from previously collected fines in escrow and $25 million the city is owed in outstanding red light camera fines issued when the program was still in operation.
“I am thankful that traffic violators, not Houston taxpayers, will be paying for this,” Parker said. “This is a reasonable settlement and I thank the City legal department for its diligence in getting it done.”
The Houston Chronicle notes that ATS' payout could reach as much as $12.3 million if the city collects all $25 million in outstanding fines. However, it appears questionable how much of those outstanding fines the city will ultimately collect.
Under the terms of the agreement, ATS will be paid $2.3 million up front. This represents the amount ATS would have received had the red light cameras remained on from the date they were initially turned off following the voter initiative in November 2010 to December of 2011. ATS will also receive another $2.4 million over the next three years. This additional amount is meant to address the amounts ATS could have received under its contract with the City, based on collection of delinquent red light camera fines.
In exchange for the payments, ATS has agreed to end its legal fight with the City and remove all of its cameras from Houston intersections within 60 days of approval of the settlement by Houston City Council. The City ordered the cameras turned off and stopped issuing red light camera violations last August."
The council will consider the proposal during the next meeting on Wednesday.