Legislators passed a ban on red-light cameras earlier this year, but the City of Amarillo is considering keeping its traffic enforcement cameras operational through 2022.

During the Amarillo City Council’s most recent meeting, City Manager Jared Miller and the city council discussed the cameras and the future of the traffic enforcement program after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1631 into law, which effectively bans the use of the cameras statewide. However, an amendment allows cities currently in contracts to continue operating the contracts, but does not allow new red-light cameras to be installed.

Miller told the city council this week that he and municipal staff in Amarillo are recommending the city continue operating the red-light cameras through the end of the contract, which will expire in 2022.

“We don’t see a way that we can prudently recommend to Council that we cancel the contract under that clause because it expressly says we can continue [operating the cameras],” Miller said.

Under Amarillo’s contract, the city council could choose to cancel the use of the cameras for a fee, which Miller said would run in the neighborhood of $500,000. City Councilmember Elaine Hays also mentioned she is concerned about the costs associated with exiting the existing contract. She proposed possibly waiting a number of years to exit the contract in order the decrease the fee associated, but said the city will need citizen feedback on any possible exit from the use of the cameras.

The discussion also comes following the city’s May 4 elections, where red-light cameras were a hot topic. During a candidate forum in April, Councilmembers Hays, Howard Smith, and Freda Powell all expressed support for leaving the cameras in place.

Officials say discussions over the future of the cameras will continue in the coming weeks.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.