The Missouri Supreme Court has denied the transfer of a case challenging the constitutionality of a St. Charles County Charter amendment that bans red-light cameras in both incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county.
The May 30 ruling affirms a Missouri Court of Appeals decision from January, supporting a judgment from November 2015 by the 11th District Circuit Court in St. Charles County upholding the constitutionality of the amendment.
The amendment to prohibit red-light cameras countywide was placed on the November 2014 ballot and approved by 72 percent of county voters. The amendment was challenged by the cities of St. Peters, O’Fallon and Lake Saint Louis, and former O’Fallon Alderman Jim Pepper and former Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty, who filed suit against the county’s election authority and county.
“This is a good day and another victory for the voters of St. Charles County,” County Executive Steve Ehlmann stated in a county news release. “The charter form of government gives the power to the people to tell city and county governments what they want in their communities. Over 72 percent of our voters approved the charter amendment. This is clearly what voters wanted.”
Automated red-light cameras take photographs of vehicles that run red stoplights, and violators were assessed fines of $110 or more per violation. St. Peters was the only governmental body in St. Charles County that was using red-light cameras. The city’s use of red-light cameras sparked a debate among some councilmembers and city officials, which eventually resulted in the amendment being placed on the ballot.
City officials had said they wanted the election result voided because they questioned the county government’s authority over municipal laws. “It’s not about red-light cameras, we don’t have the intention of having them and we have never had them,” said Lake Saint Louis Mayor Kathy Schweikert at one point.
“Some in the cities complain the county cannot tell them what to do – and they are right,” Ehlmann added in the news release.
“The action by the County Council to put this on the ballot could have been taken up by the people through an initiative petition,” he said. “The council and the people took action because a statewide bill to ban red-light cameras has been killed for three successive years by lobbyists in Jefferson City.
“The rights of the voters of this county were upheld by the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court.”