The LeClaire City Council took another step toward installing speed cameras, giving city staff the authority to negotiate to bring the technology to the city.

The LeClaire City Council gave the yellow light to installing speed cameras — giving city staff the authority to negotiate with vendors of the technology to bring a final proposal to the council. 

At its council meeting Monday night, four of the five council members voted in favor of the Automated Traffic Enforcement, or ATE, program concept, which would bring the speed camera technology to the Scott County city. The council directed the city's mayor, police chief, city attorney and city administrator to begin negotiating with potential vendors of the technology.

However, any contract will have to be brought back to council for approval before the program is launched. 

Council member Barry Long was the single "no" vote. 

"The concept has been approved," City Administrator Ed Choate said Tuesday. "A part of that implementation is to go out and get vendors to submit proposals and bring back a selected vendor for their review. ... And yes, the council could say 'No, we're not going to approve a contract ....' But right now it has taken a step.

Ahead of the vote, council member Jason Wentland proposed re-wording the resolution, which initially would have allowed staff to take action and implement the program. 

"If we pass this resolution, the city council will be totally hands off. I wanted some oversight, that's why I struck it from the verbiage," he said.

"The intent of the resolution is not to say 'Hey, go ahead and implement the program,'" said Wentland, the council's public safety liaison. He added the resolution is designed for the city to gather more details on the "when, where and how" the cameras would work.

The introduction of speed cameras was recommended by Police Chief Shane Themas, who has been working months with vendor Sensys Gatso Group to investigate the city's options. He has collected data showing the need for speed cameras, in particular, along the city's stretch of Interstate 80 corridor and a portion of Cody Road. 

In addition, the council voted 4-1 (with Long voting no) on the first reading of a new ordinance that gives the city the legal basis to implement the ATE program, Choate said.  

A proposed fine schedule drew concern for some council members, who thought fines would only be assessed against those driving 12 miles or more over the speed limits in the traffic enforcement areas. 

Themas said by setting such a threshold, drivers would believe it was OK to speed below that amount.

"We want them to follow the speed limit," he added. 

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