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St. Peters may sideline its red-light cameras

St. Peters may sideline its red-light cameras

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ST. PETERS • City officials are on the verge of suspending the use of red-light enforcement cameras until the Missouri Supreme Court rules on the devices’ future in the state.

At a meeting tonight, Mayor Len Pagano wants aldermen to impose a moratorium beginning Monday.

Pagano cited confusion among residents on whether they should pay red-light tickets issued by St. Peters and other cities amid various and sometimes conflicting lower court rulings. St. Peters in 2006 became the second city in the area to install the cameras.

“It’s the best thing to do,” Pagano said of the moratorium. “It’s really a mixed bag to the public. Do I pay it? Do I not pay it? It’s a lot of confusion.”

The state high court agreed earlier this week to hear St. Peters’ challenge of lower court rulings that said an earlier version of the city camera program conflicted with state law.

The high court previously agreed to review St. Louis’ red-light camera ordinance, which differs from St. Peters’ in some respects.

The move toward a moratorium in St. Peters follows the St. Charles County Council’s decision to seek voter approval in the November election of a ban on red-light cameras. The ban would apply to both cities and unincorporated areas.

Randy Weber, St. Peters’ city attorney, said Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. — the Arizona company that contracts with the city to operate the cameras — had agreed to a moratorium.

Pagano said he remains opposed to the county charter amendment as an infringement on municipalities’ rights to pass their own laws. The St. Charles County Municipal League also objects.

He said that if the city moratorium was approved, the county amendment would be a “nonissue.” The sponsor of the county measure, County Councilman Joe Brazil, R-Defiance, said it was still needed because St. Peters could always reinstate its cameras after the Supreme Court ruled.

“It’s going to a vote of the people to let them decide,” Brazil said. “Once it’s over, it’s over.”

However, Pagano has warned of the possibility of court challenges to the proposed charter ban.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Ted House ruled last October that St. Peters’ camera ordinance conflicted with state law because convictions didn’t result in penalty points added to a drivers license.

Aldermen responded by removing a city ban on assessment of penalty points but they also appealed the ruling. In June, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District upheld House’s decision.

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