The LeClaire Police Department will have eyes in the sky in the future to help it catch speeders.
By a 3-1 vote, the LeClaire City Council approved a five-year contract with Sensys Gatso USA Inc. for the installation of new speed cameras, what is known as automated traffic enforcement, or ATE, services.
Council member Barry Long cast the only vote against the contract. Councilman Jason Gordon was absent.
LeClaire Police Chief Shane Themas began working last year with Sensys Gatso to investigate the city's options for an ATE program. As part of the research, his staff also collected speed data along the city's stretch of Interstate 80 corridor as well as a portion of Cody Road, which showed a need for more traffic enforcement.
After Monday's council meeting, Themas said the city considered additional vendors but chose the Beverly, Mass.-based Sensys Gatso, in part, because it "was the most prevalent (provider) in Iowa."
City Administrator Ed Choate said the city expects to have two or three cameras provided by the contractor, which must first obtain permits from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Sensys Gatso will be responsible for all the costs, including the equipment, installation, maintenance and operations. It also will issue and collect the fines from violators. LeClaire police will review and approve all tickets from the cameras.
Themas said the city will have no financial investment in the system. Instead, it will receive a portion of the fines.
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According to the agreement, for the first three years LeClaire will pay Sensys Gatso a fee of $35 or 35%, whichever is larger, from every citation collected. The fee will reduce to $32 or 32% of total citation fees collected (whichever is greater) in subsequent years.
Council member John Smith questioned the termination fee should the city get out of the contract.
Mayor Ray Allen said if the city terminates the agreement within the first five years without cause, it would pay a fee of $1,000 per month per location unit to fulfill the contract. He speculated the fee would compensate the company for installation and equipment costs. "I'm sure it would not be covering them for revenues they'd be losing (from citations)."
Although the camera locations have not been determined, Choate and Themas said they expect them to be focused on the portion of I-80 that LeClaire has jurisdiction for as well as along Highway 67 (Cody Road). Sensys Gasto will work with Themas to select the camera locations.
Choate estimated it could be early 2020 or spring before the equipment is installed, but he could not say when it would become operational. "I know they're anxious to get going on it."
Asked about the public's reaction to the prospect of speed cameras, Themas said after the meeting that it has mostly been positive. "Residents understand our capabilities are limited with a department of our size."
In other business, the council:
- Unanimously approved the acquisition of a parking area from Blackhawk Bank & Trust, LeClaire, for $130,580 as part of the police station's remodeling project.
- Accepted a $2,500 donation from Enbridge Alliance Management LLC (Alliance Pipeline) for the LeClaire Fire Department. Fire Chief Jim Bradley said the donation will be used to purchase helmet and truck cameras.