The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to accept an amendment to its contract with Redflex Traffic Systems that will allow the town to keep half of all revenues generated by its traffic cameras.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said Redflex proposed the amendment in recognition of the significant reduction in revenues that resulted from state legislation that prohibits municipalities from imposing litigation taxes on camera-generated traffic citations. Enacted by the state in 2011, the law also set the maximum fine for the citations at $50.
Jonesborough’s original 5-year contract with Redflex, which will expire at the end of 2013, included a tiered payment formula through which Redflex received $41.50 for the first 100 citations paid, $28.90 for the next 50 citations and $19 for all subsequent citations.
The amended contract states Redflex will receive $25 and Joneborough will receive $25 for every citation paid without regard to number.
In his recommendation for the board to approve the amended contract, Browning said, “The legislative action by the state changed revenue from violations in a manner that resulted in lost revenue by Jonesborough.
“Redflex has provided the amendment because they know there needs to be more balance and fairness. The fine is $50 so revenue received will now be shared on a 50-50 basis. This is a major benefit to the town and highly recommended.”
Browning said traffic violations and serious accidents have both declined dramatically since the town activated the cameras on U.S. Highway 11E four years ago.
The town has never included any traffic camera revenue in its general budget but instead used the money for public safety projects including road improvement projects and police equipment purchases, he said.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe joined Browning in recommending the Redflex contract amendment, saying “This is not about money. This is about safety.”
The board voted unanimously to accept the contract amendment.
In other business, the board voted to accept an audit of its fiscal year 2011-12 operations that included three findings of significant deficiency, including two deficiencies that were also found in its previous year’s audit.
The two repeat findings are for the town’s failure to a have a final agreement with Lowe’s for repayment of the cost Lowe’s paid to run water lines run its store off 11E at Headtown Road, and for a 55.6 percent water loss that exceeds the limit set by the state’s Utility Management Review Board by more than 20 percent.
The new deficiency finding is for violations of the town bid and purchasing policies through un-bid purchases of previously owned road maintenance vehicles and heavy equipment.
Despite the three findings, Kevin Peters, a representative of the accounting firm of Blackburn Childers & Steagall that conducted the audit, told the board the auditor’s opinion is “an unqualified clean opinion” or “the best you can get.”
Peters noted the town received a large amount of grant funding in the last half of the fiscal year that required significantly more auditing than other funds and the report on the grant funds was also “very clean.”
He said the town is “making progress” toward correcting both of its “carry-over” deficiencies and has already corrected the new deficiency with an amendment of its bid and purchasing policy.
The recent policy amendment allows the town to purchase used equipment when the price is within average market values and the purchase is reviewed and approved by the board.
A “management response” to the water loss finding states that the town is currently replacing all its old water meters and the new meters’ more accurate calibrations will reduce the amount of water that shows up as lost.
Wolfe noted the town has been working to update its water system and correct its water loss for several years while the state’s classification of water loss as an audit deficiency has only been in place for two years.
A management response to the audit’s finding that the town has failed to negotiate a final agreement for repayment with Lowe’s said the town will continue to make annual payments “based on an original cost estimate” and a final balloon payment at the end of 10 years.
“We will confirm that amount owed to Lowe’s … before the end of 2012-2013,” the response said.