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Pinecrest approves red-light cameras

Some Pinecrest residents and one council member challenged the safety of red-light cameras at a Village Council meeting Wednesday.

But in a 4-1 vote, council members passed the law allowing the village to install the cameras, although a contract, revenue, costs and a vendor have yet to be determined.

Councilman Bob Ross dissented.

“I don’t believe safety is the point of them,” said Ross, who pointed to the problems that other municipalities, such as Cutler Bay, are having with the cameras. He said the town has seen a 22 percent increase in rear-end collisions and low revenue.

But Pinecrest Police Chief Samuel Ceballos said Cutler Bay also saw a 90 percent reduction in other serious crashes, such as T-boning at intersections.

“I think what happens is it makes people conscious,” said Ceballos. “They don’t know when they’re going to come across one, so they pay more attention.”

Mayor Ed MacDougal of Cutler Bay confirmed the above statistics, and said that the council members knew that rear-end accidents would increase before implementing the program three years ago, and they still decided to go through with it.

“It’s not a money-maker,” said MacDougal, a retired Miami-Dade police sergeant, in an interview. “It may end up being a money-loser in the long run. But it has saved lives, literally.”

In other news, the council discussed passing a law that prohibits the retail sale of dogs and cats in the village.

Councilman James McDonald introduced the idea in July as the issue of “puppy mills” and “kitten factories” have become a recent national concern.

Puppy mills are places where dogs are bred at mass rates and amounts to be conveniently sold to pet retailers. The animals bred at these places are often kept in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. In some instances, buyers find they have severe underlying illnesses after they are purchased, resulting in expensive treatment or death.

Although there are currently no pet retailers in the village, McDonald wants to ensure it will not happen in the future.

The village council also passed the proposed 2013-14 tax rate and budget.

The proposed tax rate is $2.20 per $1,000 in property value, the same rate as this year.

Members added a communications manager position under the department of the village clerk to the proposed budget, which Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez said will enhance communication with residents as well as help brand the village’s image.

A second budget hearing will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at the Pinecrest Municipal Center, 12645 Pinecrest Pkwy., to adopt the final budget.

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