Rogers council puts speed camera plans on hold

ROGERS – Village Council’s plans to go with a speed-monitoring system have been temporarily put on hold until officials determine whether the contract must be put out for bid.

Council was prepared at this week’s meeting to proceed with hiring Optotraffic LLC to install and operate mobile speed-monitoring surveillance units in the village until Solicitor Michelle Simonelli urged restraint.

After initially having no problems with the contract, Simonelli checked with the state auditor’s office and was told such a contract may be subject to the formal bidding process rather than just awarding it outright to Optotraffic.

Under the proposed agreement, Optotraffic would operate the automated-speed enforcement machines that catch speeding motorists using laser radar and cameras. The company would maintain the $80,000 units and issue the speeding citations in return for 40 percent of the fine money.

State law requires formal bids be sought for any contracts in excess of $50,000, unless it is for professional services or an emergency. Simonelli is concerned the village could run afoul of the law if the amount being paid Optotraffic exceeds $50,000 per year, which is likely. One of the company’s customers, a village of 2,000 in southern Ohio, received $800,000 in fine money during the first six months the system was in operation.

She recommended they hold off taking action until the village is told by the state auditor’s office the contract can be awarded without seeking formal bids. “You have a track record with the auditor’s office that Rogers doesn’t always do everything the right way,” Simonelli told council.

Optotraffic representative Dorian Grubaugh was at the meeting and he said they have never been required to go through the bidding process with any of the other communities that have done business with except when the community purchased the equipment directly from Optotraffic to operate instead of the company.

Grubaugh said even if they were required to go through the formal bidding process, Optotraffic is the only company using this particular advanced laser-radar technology.

Council decided to delay further action until Simonelli hears back from the state auditor’s office. A special meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. April 16, by which time Simonelli expects to have a definitive answer.