Vicki Almond, the newly-elected chairwoman of the Baltimore County Council, said Saturday that she and her colleagues have questions about a proposed speed camera contract with ACS State and Local Solutions.
"I do think we will be asking those questions," said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat.
The contract with ACS State and Local Solutions would add seven new speed cameras to the current 15 and seven new red light cameras to the current eight within five months of council approval.
The county could also add an additional four cameras in the first five-year term of the contract.
The contractor would be paid about $6.2 million in the first five years. Two additional one-year extensions could bring the total compensation to about $9.1 million.
Currently, the company supplies the 15 cameras in the county and is paid about $12,000 per camera per month.
Councilmen Todd Huff and David Marks, Republicans from Timonium and Perry Hall respectively, said earlier this week that they were also concerned about the payments made to the contractor. Both have opposed speed cameras in the past.
Almond, who supported a bill last year that eliminated the cap on the number of speed cameras that could be placed in school zones in the county, said she defers to county police Chief Jim Johnson on whether or not the cameras are necessary and effective. She said, however, that as a former community activist she understands the concerns of residents who call and email her office opposing the program.
She said if she were not in office "I'd probably be one of those people out there asking the same questions" but that her position on the council has given her "a different perspective."
Similar to other council members, Almond said news of the contract caught her by surprise.
"We're waiting for a briefing," said Almond. "Before we tackle this issue, we want to be well informed."
"This is a very contentious program and one not easy to deal with," said Almond.