Monroe to ask voters about traffic cameras again

MONROE — Voters in Monroe again will be asked whether they think the city should use traffic-enforcement cameras.

That part of the general-election ballot is advisory, though. And the vote will serve little purpose because city officials already have decided to ditch the cameras as soon as they can.

Monroe voters in 2011 resoundingly voted “no” when asked whether they wanted the cameras.

They’re being asked again because of the complicated, ongoing legal battle between city officials and Tim Eyman and crew.

Multiple camera-related ballot measures were floated in 2011, one of which included annual advisory votes.

The legality of what happened still is being settled. The two sides have been in court on and off for the past year.

The case is scheduled for more hearings in the state Court of Appeals on Nov. 1.

City officials expect the legal wrangling to be resolved before the end of November, city administrator Gene Brazel said this week.

The ongoing litigation prevented him from commenting further, he said.

“I can say that the city respects the opinion of the Monroe citizens and because of this, (the camera question) has been placed back on the ballot this year for their advisory vote,” he said.

Eyman disagrees.

“It should have just taken one vote,” Eyman said. “One should have been enough, but here we are.”

The crux of the argument now is this: Eyman and the anti-camera camp maintain that the city should have pulled the plug on the cameras a long time ago.

City officials maintain that doing so would open Monroe up to potential expensive litigation for breach of contract with the vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems of Arizona.

The current contract ends in late 2013. Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman earlier this year said there was “zero” likelihood the city will renew the contract.

Together, Monroe’s speed-zone and red-light cameras yielded $435,730 in fines between August 2011 and June 2012, police data show.

The vote this time mirrors the question asked earlier: Should Monroe continue to use traffic enforcement cameras?

There are no minimum vote or turnout requirements for advisory measures, Snohomish County elections manager Garth Fell said.

“The results simply indicate public feeling on an issue and can be used by the jurisdiction as they see fit,” he said.

Regular ballots are mailed Oct. 18.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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