Despite a new “reform” law, it is business as usual for one Maryland speed camera vendor.
Brekford, the Hanover-based speed camera vendor, announced last week the extension of its contracts with the cities of Hagerstown, Laurel, and Salisbury.
With many of the Company’s Maryland contracts due to expire this year, extension discussions were complex as the Maryland legislature was debating SB350, also known as the “Speed Monitoring System Reform Act of 2014,” which became law on June 1, 2014. Among other revisions to the original 2009 legislation authorizing cameras statewide in Maryland, the Act states that a presently existing obligation, contract, or contract right may not be impaired in any way and that the Act does not repeal any current obligation, contract, or contract right in existence before the effective date of the Act through June 1, 2017.
The ostensible purpose of the “reform” law was to ban so called “bounty contracts” where camera vendors are paid on per ticket basis.Brekford’s contracts with these three municipalities stipulate payments on a percentage basis for each camera deployed.
For example the contract with Laurel requires the town to pay Brekford 40 percent of collections from each camera.The contractor receives 40 percent of collections from Hagerstown, and 35 percent from the city of Salisbury.
That the contracts are a percentage-based structure and not per-ticket is meaningless according to Ron Ely at the Maryland Drivers Alliance, a speed camera watchdog group. If the percentage of ticket revenue pricing structure, is “not a ‘bounty’ and is not restricted by the new language of the law,” Ely said, “then the term and the bill have no meaning at all since they’d all just move from a dollar amount per ticket to a completely equivalent percentage of each ticket.”
On the Maryland Drivers Alliance blog, Ely stated
The fact that local governments could sign new contract extensions to avoid all the new rules for years to come was one of the issues we raised. But this is issue which the cheerleaders for the meaningless reforms, who want people to incorrectly think that the systematic problems with Maryland’s speed camera law are all fixed (so they can come back in future years and work to expand speed cameras), are entirely glossing over.
Payments made on volume leaves the perverse incentive for speed camera vendors to issue more tickets intact.
Another speed camera vendor, Redspeed devised another end run around the bounty ban. An internal audit by Wicomico County of its contract with Redspeed noted that the vendor changed the per-ticket payment structure into four separate payments based on volume.