A controversial traffic calming program could be expanded under a bill proposed by Councilman Tom Quirk.
Quirk, a Democrat in the first year of his first term, said he plans to introduce a bill on Jan. 3 that will allow the county to increase the number of speed cameras as the need arises.
Under current law passed in Sept. 2009, the county is limited to 15 cameras.
"The reason I wanted to do this is to make our communities more walkable and bike-able," Quirk said.
As part of the bill, Quirk said he will include language that will allow council members to review proposed camera locations. The county would be required to provide 14 days notification on proposed sites.
Council members could then request that the issue be brought before them for a hearing. The location would become official if no such request is made.
"I don't want to see speed cameras everywhere," said Quirk, adding that he believes the cameras are appropriate for areas where police have "data and evidence that they are needed to reduce speed."
Quirk said he believes that additional cameras will help make communities safer for children.
"What better thing than to protect our kids, you know," said Quirk, adding that traffic safety was a big issue when he went door-to-door as he campaigned.
Quirk said he believes at least three council members are prepared to sign on as co-sponsors — enough to ensure passage.
The proposed changes come less than a year after the county implemented the speed camera program.
Last year, the state legislature authorized local governments to place the cameras in highway construction and school zones. The cameras, in operation from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., issue $40 tickets to drivers photographed traveling more than 12 mph over the posted speed limit.
County Police Chief Jim Johnson told the County Council earlier this month that the 15 cameras have reduced speeding in school zones based on a decreasing number of tickets issued.
"It's changing driver behavior," Johnson told the council.
Johnson was not immediately available for comment on the proposed change.
Don Mohler, a spokesman for County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, said he could not comment "on a bill we haven't seen and the county executive hasn't had a chance to read."
Republican freshman Councilman David Marks said that while he has some concerns about speed cameras he believes Quirk's proposal, including council oversight, is reasonable.
"I have some fundamental problems with the way the current law is structured," said Marks. "I have to be honest, speed cameras are not universally loved by the public."
The program was criticized by opponents who claimed the cameras would be used as a way to generate additional money for the county.
Marks said he would like to see amendments to Quirk's bill that would move any money raised by the $40 tickets from the general fund to a special fund that would pay for sidewalk repairs or crossing guards at public schools.
Marks also said he would like to see the law restrict the cameras to areas around public schools only, rather than private schools and daycare centers.
Quirk said he "emphatically would support" moving the fines to a special fund and said he has been discussing the issue with Marks.
Councilman Ken Oliver, who represents the 4th District, said he would support the expansion.
"I thought it should have been expanded all along," the three-term Democrat said.
Oliver said he would like to see a camera placed near Randallstown High School and Deer Park Middle Magnet School on Winands Road.
"That's a two-mile stretch that on any given day is like the Indianapolis 500," Oliver said.
Cathy Bevins, a freshman Democrat who represents the 6th District, also is in favor of the change.
"I think it's working and I don't see why we shouldn't install more," Bevins said.