The Abington Public Safety Committee OK'd a motion allowing the township to enter into 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.
Abington Police Chief William Kelly said that collecting delinquent violations from red light cameras is a specialized business, and that working with MCOA would streamline the process.
But Abington Commissioner Steven Kline expressed concern that Gatso and MCOA are too closely affiliated with each other; Kline said the contract to collect delinquent violations should have gone to a request for proposal.
"The close tie between the two breaks down the checks and balances," Kline said. "The fact that they're connected concerns me. I don't know why this didn't go out to RFP."
Kelly said because there's no cost affiliated with the agreement, there couldn't be a competitive bid process.
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 (which is $35).
Commissioner John Spiegelman said it feels like Gatso is putting the township in an "awkward position by springing this on us late in the game."
"It feels as if it looks like the township missed a step in this process," he said.
Abington Police Officer Chris Posey said 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 and said that Gatso does work with other collection companies.
Resident Lora Lehman said she agreed with Kline, adding complaints about the collection company could go unheard because MCOA has a relationship with Gatso, which is essentially driving the business.