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Cobb Stop-Arm Fines Yield $58K

Commissioners this morning are also expected to conduct the second of three public hearings related to a federal program that checks for illegal immigrants.

A program that fines motorists who zip by Cobb school buses without stopping generated more than $58,000 during its first two months.

During this morning's Board of Commissioners meeting, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the County Building, 100 Cherokee St., officials are expected to split the first payout from the program between the Cobb County School District, the Cobb County Police Department and an outside vendor.

Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said the program is not about revenue.

"It is about making a safer Cobb for our children," he said.

It was the death of 5-year-old Mountain View Elementary School student Karla Campos, who was struck by an elderly driver as she exited her school bus in 2009, that first prompted calls for greater stop-arm enforcement.

In 2011, the school system installed cameras on more than 100 buses as part of a pilot program to catch motorists too impatient or distracted to wait for buses to pick up and drop off students. But that program had its limitations and authorities could issue citations in unincorporated Cobb only.

Last summer, school board members and county commissioners voted to put more teeth in the program and approved a 5-year contract with American Traffic Solutions to issue citations to stop-arm violators. First-time offenders face a $300 fine. A second offense within a five-year period costs $750. A third offense is $1,000.

Under the agreement approved last summer, ATS keeps 75 percent of the proceeds and splits the rest equally between the county police department and the school system.

In the second year of the program, which begins in November, ATS will receive 60 percent of the revenue and the remaining 40 percent will be split equally between the county and the school district.

And during the third, fourth and fifth years of the program, ATS' share will drop to 45 percent.

According to a memo from Police Chief John Houser to County Manager David Hankerson, the program collected $58,650 in November and December 2012. ATS will receive $43,987.50 while the county and the school district will each get $7,331.25.

So far, the program appears to be working, Pierce said.

While there were about 1,400 violations reported per day "before and during the evolution of this program," Cobb school bus drivers now report 400 violations a day, he said.

An additional 98 buses will be outfitted with cameras by late March 2013, Pierce said.

In other business:

  • Commissioners will conduct the second of three public hearings on proposed code changes on a federal program that checks for illegal immigrants. Under the program, contractors doing business with the county would have to apply for federal certification. Known as IMAGE, the program audits the company's hiring records to determine if people can legally be on the payroll.

Click here to peruse the complete agenda packet for this morning's meeting.

Greg T February 13, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Getting people to follow the law is a good thing, but who was stupid enough to hand over so much to a vender? Wow, couldn't believe what I read...75% gone, just more vanishing funds while they want more tax dollars, SPLOST, bonds etc. Wow?? Are they just trying to make us mad?
Bud E. Weiser February 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM
If you aren't breaking the law, Matthew, then you have nothing to worry about.
Suzanne Webb February 19, 2013 at 09:52 PM
What a crock! If school bus drivers could start the red flashing lights when they're about to stop, it would be so helpful. But no, they must first come to a complete stop, put the bus in park, and then set the parking brake....all while the yellow lights flash. Only when the door opens do the automatically operated red flashing lights appear. By that time, many cars are passing the yellow flashing lights......ESPECIALLY if the driver has pulled out of the traffic lane into the decleration lane at a subdivision entrance. How do I know? I've been to court and fought this policy after the driver opened the door and the red lighsts started flashing while I was passing a bus which was stopped in the decelration lane with yellow lights flashing....and I received a ticket. There shouldn't be any confusion, but there is. BEWARE: the red lights and stop arm only appear long after a bus has come to a stop!
Melinda Paris February 27, 2013 at 01:01 PM
No child should be ran over by folks passing buses etc. However I agree that there is many times I'm literally beside a bus/ no way to stop and they (bus driver flips out the sign) I believe the bus drivers should flip out the signs sooner than they do to give us a chance to stop. I haven't got a ticket but it bothers how quick I see those buses stop without very little warning. I AM OUTRAGED that we are giving 75 percent of the ticket company to an outside company while Cobb County tries year after year to raise taxes! As usual Big Gov't Hypocrites!
Melinda Paris February 27, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Should have said above TICKET MONEY!!!!

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