Suffolk County's plan to bring in $6 million with cameras at 50 intersections to catch those who run red lights is now expected to result in a $2-million budget hole because not one camera has been installed.
While public works officials last fall said that the first of the red-light cameras would be up and operating by January or February, aides to County Executive Steve Levy said the proposals for installing the cameras were only opened April 1. They added that the county picked a contractor only last week.
Before any work can be done, the county must still negotiate a contract with the installation company. Public Works Commissioner Gilbert Anderson said it could take until Memorial Day to get the first 10 cameras installed and July 1 before all cameras are fully in place.
Already, Levy budget aides have calculated that the delays will mean a loss of $2 million in revenue as part of the county's $152-million budget shortfall.
But Legis. Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) said public works estimates are far too rosy.
"I think there's going to be a greater shortfall," said Romaine, "and it's just one of a number of land mines in this budget which legislators have been kept in the dark about."
He has asked the legislature's budget committee to review the red-light camera snafu at its next meeting April 20.
Public works officials say part of the delay in putting up the cameras was that under state law, there had to be two separate bid processes - one for hardware and operation of the system and a second for the cameras' installation.
While the bids on the hardware and operation were opened Oct. 9, Anderson also conceded the evaluation of the six proposals took far longer than expected because of the complexity and the wide differences in the proposals.
He said the county only cut the number down to two finalists in January and made the final selection in February. A contract with the winner, ACS State and County Solutions of Fairfax, Va., was not finalized until March 31.
Anderson said the installation contract is simpler and should be completed in several weeks. He also stood by the revised revenue estimates, in part because the county will have "no tolerance for right turn" violations - motorists who fail to fully stop at the light before making a permitted right turn.
"Our numbers are very conservative," he said.
69 red-light cameras have been installed there since last summer. The county expects to have a full complement of 140 cameras installed by next year.
So far, the cameras have resulted in the issuance of 133,693 tickets, but officials could not say exactly how much money has come in.
The county expects to make $18 million in revenues included the 2010 budget and $27 million next year.
Source: Nassau County Executive's office.