RF swaps red-light camera vendors, increases its take

New vendor charges monthly fee vs. percent of each ticket

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

The new red-light camera contract approved by the River Forest Village Board June 22 could provide substantial savings for the village.

Village Administrator Eric Palm said the new vendor, Verra Mobility, charges a flat rate per system per month as opposed to a per ticket fee, unlike the village's previous red-light camera vendor, SafeSpeed LLC, or the other two firms that submitted proposals, Red Speed and Gatso.

According to figures Palm provided the board, assuming 18,500 tickets are issued per year, village revenue would be $1,755,200, which is almost $400,000 more than it would have been with Red Speed or Gatso.

Fines for red-light camera violations are set at $100 per ticket by the state. Under the contract with Verra Mobility, the village will collect the full amount. Under SafeSpeed, River Forest received $60 from each ticket. Under the other proposals, the village would have received $64.06 per ticket from Red Speed and $72 per ticket from Gatso.

The village operates three red-light cameras, one at Harlem and North avenues and the other two at Lake Street and Harlem. 

In February, Palm informed officials that staff intended to decline to renew River Forest's contract with SafeSpeed, allowing the contract to expire July 1, and issue a request for proposals for services to consider other vendors. The village originally contracted with SafeSpeed in 2011.

Discussion June 22 was more about red-light cameras than the merits of Verra Mobility or the proposed contract. Village President Cathy Adduci recused herself from the discussion, acknowledging that several family members lobby for a red-light camera company other than Verra Mobility. 

Trustee Patty Henek's request that the vote be delayed until next month failed to garner support.  She advocated discussing the issue June 22 but not voting until July 13 to allow trustees time to further study data provided shortly before the meeting and additional information she had requested.

The board voted 5-1 to approve the automated traffic law enforcement agreement with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions doing business as Verra Mobility. Henek cast the negative vote, saying she did not "feel comfortable" voting in favor of the contract without having the information she requested or time to evaluate it. The agreement is for five years with one two-year renewal. Palm said the price is the same for the life of the agreement.

Over the past five years, River Forest has collected more than $4 million in red-light camera fines, according to village budget documents.

David Mast, senior account manager with Verra Mobility, told officials that his firm has eight clients in the surrounding area, including Maywood. Palm said staff checked references from local clients including Hoffman Estates, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood and Bedford Park, all of which provided "favorable" reviews and references for Verra Mobility.

"There are vendors who have tainted the market for all of us," Mast said in an apparent reference to SafeSpeed, which has come under recent scrutiny in connection with a federal corruption investigation. "You won't read about Verra in the papers." 

Palm said he expects the transition to take between 30 and 45 days as SafeSpeed crews remove that firm's cameras and Verra Mobility crews replace them with their own equipment. 

According to Verra Mobility's website, the firm operates more than 4,000 red-light, speed and school bus stop arm safety cameras in more than 200 jurisdictions across North America.

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Reader Comments

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 9:46 PM

Really, Ben? The headline states the village will "increase its take," and the 3rd paragraph states that that take is "almost $400,000 more than it would have been with Red Speed or Gatso." So, why exactly are you complaining?

Ben DeBruin  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 9:27 PM

The article should state that River Forest is going to make $400k more, not save $400k. This is all about profit, not saving expenses.

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