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Gulf Breeze leaders weigh in on red light camera bill

Gulf Breeze leaders weigh in on red light camera bill

An effort to repeal the red light camera law in Florida is making its way through the state legislature.

Some are suggesting it's a windfall for vendors and doesn't reduce accidents, but Gulf Breeze city officials paint a different picture.

If you drive through Gulf Breeze, you know it's time to slow down.

More than a decade ago, aggressive speed enforcement was paired with red light cameras at three intersections.

Opponents claim nearly half of the money from violations pays the vendors who run and maintain them, but City Manager Samantha Abell said in her city that isn't the case.

"Half of that money goes to the state of Florida. Another 25 percent goes to the company that monitors those tickets that provide us a video feed every day," she explained.

She said the city's cut is funneled back into public safety.

"What that means in real numbers is that we have been able to accumulate enough over a number of years to be able to pay for a $430,000 fire truck that otherwise would have been entirely funded by our 5,600 residents," she said.

Abell added the program would remain, even if it was a break-even venture.

Police Chief Rick Hawthorne said given today's traffic volume, and the distractions drivers face, anything that gives safety an edge is a good thing.

"We all know nowadays, between texting and everything else, it's a deterrent - and hopefully people will pay attention to it," he said.

The city manager stands behind the use of the cameras and has a message for those seeking their removal.

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