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Abington Enters Into Agreement to Collect Delinquent Red Light Camera Violations

Municipal Collections of America, Inc. will collect the delinquent red light camera violations issued in Abington.

The Abington Township Building. Credit: Mischa Arnosky
The Abington Township Building. Credit: Mischa Arnosky

The path to collecting red light camera violations in Abington cleared another hurdle Thursday night.

The Abington Board of Commissioners last night OK'd an agreement with Municipal Collections of America, Inc. (MCOA) for the collection of delinquent red light camera violations.

The firm Gatso, Inc., which will install and operate the red light camera hardware in the township, subcontracts with (MCOA) to collect the delinquent violations.

For more about the upcoming red light cameras in Abington click here. 

Abington Commissioners Steven Kline and John Spiegelman said at last week’s public safety committee meeting that they were uncomfortable with MCOA getting the nod; Kline said there should have been a request for proposal regarding MCOA’s services and Spiegelman said he felt the company Gatso somewhat forced the township to enter into the agreement with MCOA by “springing this on us late in the game.”

Abington Police Chief William Kelly said last night that while Gatso recommended the firm MCOA, Gatso is a completely separate company from MCOA, and the two have no ties other than a working relationship.

Kelly also said that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will not permit the township to collect its own delinquent violations.

Officer Chris Posey said last week that MCOA is reputable and has been in business for more than 20 years; he added that the company collects delinquent violations for more than 80 municipalities across the country.

Commissioners Kline, Spiegelman and Wayne Luker voted against the motion.

As for the delinquent violations …

If a driver cruises through a red light and gets a picture snapped of his or her license plate, the driver will be issued a violation and will be given 30 days to pay. After that, a second notice is issued. After 51 days, a third and final notice will be issued. After 79 days, the violation will go to the collection agency and the driver will be charged an extra 35 percent on top of the $100 fine.

waldo von erich December 13, 2013 at 09:49 AM
in reading this agreement why is their NO mention of someone who does get a ticket, DO they have the right to contest this in district court ? and what information will be available to contest the ticket? we will have access to the reliability and accuracy of the red light equipment ? what is the method of calibration ? how often will it be done ?
Me December 13, 2013 at 07:35 PM
And when the recipient ignores the collection agency's $135 revenue request what happens then? In many jurisdictions, the answer is nothing.
Patrick Molloy December 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM
The contract with MCOA is merely one component of our Red Light Camera Program, and this contract will not include many of the administrative aspects of the law. What appears in the contract with MCOA, addresses delinquent debts that are assessed after the entire appeals process. Our program has been designed to provide opportunities to contest a violation at various levels. First, an operator or vehicle owner can simply contact our Department to plead his or her case. If the matter is not resolved at this informal level, a neutral Administrative Judge (yet to be appointed by the Board) will hear the case. The operator/vehicle owner then has the right to appeal the matter to our District Justice. While very few appeal beyond the District Court level, the PA laws allows for further appeals to the county level. At all stages of this process, you have access to all of the information regarding the technology, frequency of calibration checks, etc. Our goal is to administer this program in a way that is completely transparent and fair to all members of the public. In doing so, we needed to ensure that those who fail to pay the fine are held accountable to the civil penalties associates with failure to pay a legitimate debt. Shortly, we will be providing more details as to the administrative components of Abington's program, which will be unique and unlike some of the other programs you referenced. In the mean time, if you need additional information regarding these issues, please contact me at pmolloy@abington.org. Thank you for your comments and concerns, as it allowed me to address some of the misconceptions regarding Abington's Red Light Camera Program. Sincerely, Lt . Patrick Molloy Abington Community Policing
waldo von erich December 15, 2013 at 06:42 AM
Lt. Malloy, you mention the following , Abington's program, which will be unique and unlike some of the other programs you referenced, unique ? being unique their has to be a cost factor to the taxpayer's? also I don't think I referenced any other programs . maybe someone will be transparent enough to tell us what the cost of this entire project will be with ALL aspects of running this program , including police costs , and who truly will be paying the bill for this project , thank you for your reply Lt.
Patrick Molloy December 15, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Waldo, I was responding to both your post and the other one that referenced no consequences for not paying the $135. In the past some programs had no recourse for those who failed to pay, so there was no incentive to comply with the law, etc. All of the cost for running this program will be either paid by Gatso and the fines. Once the program is up and running, Chief Kelly will be providing detailed reports to the Board on the costs associated with this program and the payments to the Township for these costs. The Chief also has prepared a very comprehensive explanation of our program, and we hope to make this available on our APD website and Patch ASAP. This will be complete with FAQ's, so I am confident that you will have a better understanding of how our program will operate. As always, please feel free to contact me if your have additional questions or concerns. Thanks again.
waldo von erich December 15, 2013 at 08:53 AM
Thank you for your reply first let me say I Never mentioned Anything About non payment. My questions are about due process. Also did not the commissioners have a transparent picture of costs when they approved the project?thank you. For your prompt replys . its been interesting. Learning experience
Andrew December 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Here's an even better solution to traffic management at intersections: roundabouts. They cost nothing to operate, improve traffic flow significantly, reduce air pollution, lower everyone's fuel consumption, decrease transit times and eliminate T-bone collisions. No red lights to run, no red light cameras necessary.
PhillyRes December 15, 2013 at 08:27 PM
I have a few questions about this program, the first is are there motor vehicle or judicial repercussions for not paying the ticket? I am a little confused between the article and the comments as to if there are. Next is if there are motor vehicle or judicial repercussions for non-payment it seems like giving the debt collector 35% is a pretty big chunk of change, perhaps im incorrect and I know debt is usually resold cheaply but with the threat of other types of enforcement I imagine the debt is typically able to be collected once sent to collections between credit threats and threats to motor vehicle or other types of enforcement. Lastly has the township setup a way of testing the effectiveness of this program, my problem with alot of these programs is they are clear money makers for municipalities. Obviously the defense is always safety is increased but the financial gain from these programs cannot be overlooked. So I think it pertinent that anyone interested in developing one of these programs prior to installation have records of accidents at the intersection and at what level of improvement would you consider the program a success. This should be defined in advance of installation by the public and if goals are not met the program should be terminated. I am not saying that running a red light is ever acceptable but there have been many instances where these programs were installed and number of incidents were not significantly decreased and things such as changing lighting timing might have been just as effective in improving the safety at the intersection. I think these should be an absolute last resort and other methods of creating intersection awareness put in use before jumping right to enforcement. These include re-evaluating traffic flows and timing, visual indicators in the roadway to indicate the approaching intersection and any possible conflicts (think flashing lights at crosswalks, cat eyes in crosswalks), better overall illumination of intersections to improve visibility of pedestrians in the crosswalks. All of these are minimal investments and without question raise awareness of hazards in the roadway and I wonder if these options were considered or if "we need red light cameras that will stop red light runners" was the first thought the second thought being how much this is going to bolster the coffers of the municipality.
waldo von erich December 16, 2013 at 09:23 AM
I've asked this question before IF this company who is installing tthese cameras is supposedly doing this at no cost to the rownship / taxpayer and these units don't make any monies will the criteria be changed that will enforcement be more agreesive? To get money? As was mentioned this brings me to ask will this part of Abington s new unique unlike any other programscameras ?
waldo von erich December 16, 2013 at 09:25 AM
And when they the installing company does not make any money who get stuck with the cost of running this program? Again where is all this transparency?
James Kephart Jr. December 16, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Red light cameras are a joke. Just another way to monitor and photograph citizens as well as generate revenue for bloated governments that can't control spending. Abington will regret this decision. Maybe the newly elected Democrats will bring some fiscal responsibility.......................... sorry about that one!
Andrew December 16, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I know I said this already, but roundabouts - sometimes called traffic circles when they're small - are so much better than four-way intersections. I used to live in London, where you can see roundabouts large and small (they take a trivially small amount of extra space than a simple four-way intersection, and less space than four way intersections with turn lanes). They really do make traffic flow much, much better than traffic lights and four-way stop signs. Since all you need to construct them is some paint, or for larger ones, some concrete, you get big municipal savings versus lights and cameras, which need to be maintained on a routine basis and which consume electricity. Everyone saves time getting from place to place too, which makes everyone more productive. And because people don't spend time idling waiting for green lights, and burn extra fuel stopping and starting frequently, air pollution is reduced, which indirectly lowers everyone's medical bills and health insurance costs. Roundabouts are win-win all around - a fact that has been measured and quantified, whereas everyone but the equipment manufacturers and people with jobs directly related to them loses with cameras and traffic lights.
waldo von erich December 21, 2013 at 09:44 AM
With all the articles posted here on line about this issue I find it very interesting that their is NO comments from our elected commissioner who must have had great information to approve this project
waldo von erich December 21, 2013 at 09:50 AM
And again it begs to ask the questions where are all the transparency s ? Maybe with the new board of commissioner in Jan maybe we can get some transparency and less rudness to the taxpayers at board meetings when questions are asked God bless laura lehmann for asking question s that may never get answered

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