The City of Houston has reached a $4.78 million settlement of the lawsuit filed by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). The agreement brings to an end the legal fight that began when Houston City Council approved ending Houston’s red light camera program. The funds to pay the settlement will come from previously collected fines that are in escrow and the approximately $25 million the City is still owed in outstanding red light camera fines issued when the program was still operational.
Under the terms of the agreement, ATS will be paid $2.3 million up front. This represents the amount ATS would have received had the red light cameras remained on from the date they were initially turned off following the voter initiative in November 2010 to December of 2011. ATS will also receive another $2.4 million over the next three years. This additional amount is meant to address the amounts ATS could have received under its contract with the City, based on collection of delinquent red light camera fines.
In exchange for the payments, ATS has agreed to end its legal fight with the City and remove all of its cameras from Houston intersections within 60 days of approval of the settlement by Houston City Council.
It will cost the city of Houston at least $4.8 million to get out of its contract for red-light cameras, according to a lawsuit settlement headed to the City Council on Wednesday.
American Traffic Solutions has agreed to take down the cameras within 60 days in exchange for $2.3 million upfront and a cut of future collections of delinquent fines from red-light runners.
If collections don’t cover the obligation, the city will pay $2.4 million in installments over the next three years.
Beyond that, a future ATS payday depends on the city’s success in collecting from the 240,000 delinquent red-light runners. If the city were to collect all $25 million in outstanding fines — highly unlikely since some of them are already 5 years old — ATS’s payout could reach $12.3 million.
What’s missing from this story?
Any reference to the fact that Bill White’s gambit to remove an opt-out provision from the contract with ATS and “outsmart” the state legislature is now going to cost the City of Houston millions.