Council passes traffic camera compliance ordinance revisions

With a host of new regulations surrounding Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) set to take effect on July 1, the Marshalltown city council discussed what changes it would need to make to its own program with Police Chief Mike Tupper during the previous meeting on May 28. Last Monday night, the council formally approved moving forward with the modifications and waived second and third readings.

Tupper reported that the main changes were the fine going down from $100 to $75 for driving 11 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit and the need for additional signage with the mobile unit — he believed the signage for the two fixed sites was “pretty close to where we need to be.” The revised ordinance before the council, he added, was put together by the city attorney to keep Marshalltown in compliance with state law. Although it wasn’t discussed during the meeting, the new ordinance includes language about how the revenues generated from traffic cameras can be spent — only on transportation and infrastructure improvement projects and to offset costs for public safety (police and fire departments).

“I think it’s important that we continue to utilize this equipment. This technology in law enforcement is going to be critically important to keep our community safe,” Tupper said. “You’ve heard me talk about it before. Traffic complaints (are) the number one issue that we’re hearing about, and it’s a big problem for us. It’s a big problem not just in Marshalltown but in communities across Iowa and across this country, and we don’t have enough police officers to be everywhere you need me to be to enforce speeding.”

He called the cameras “an effective tool” to address the issue within the community. The council then voted 5-1 to approve the revised ordinance with Gary Thompson opposed. A motion and second to waive the second and third readings followed before Councilor Greg Nichols asked for a point of clarification on whether waiving subsequent readings required a unanimous vote.

Councilor Mike Ladehoff said he normally didn’t like to push ordinance revisions through quickly, but he didn’t see that the city had any other option due to the change in state law. Tupper then said the delay slowed the MPD down in the process but didn’t stop him from going ahead and applying for the permits to operate the cameras, which he revealed are turned off at the moment.

Councilor Jeff Schneider suggested the possibility of a special meeting to pass additional readings, and Thompson asked why the cameras are off, thinking the city had until July 1.

“Working with the vendor and other law enforcement agencies that work with the same vendor, the decision was made that we were gonna stop issuing citations. That’s based on some legal advice that we’ve received,” Tupper said. “I’m not a lawyer, but it’s my belief the law doesn’t actually take effect until July 1, but some sections took effect immediately upon signing. And so there’s just some confusion over whether it was immediate upon signing for everything or just for some specific sections. In the interest of caution and doing the right thing, we decided to stop issuing citations until we hit July 1 and we have our ordinance in order and our permits in order.”

A motion to waive the second and third readings then passed unanimously.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.


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