Delay in contract award may harm Oklahoma revenues

A proposed traffic camera system being counted on by state budget officials to generate at least $50 million in revenues off uninsured drivers this fiscal year has run into roadblocks.
BY RANDY ELLIS Published: August 1, 2010
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Company officials will get irritated if they start getting lack of insurance fine notices, he said. There would be an appeals process, but people won't want to have to deal with it.

Rich also questions whether the state has the authority to implement the program, whether it will really generate the $50 million a year and whether it is appropriate to allow a private contractor to issue ticket notices and keep a portion of ticket revenue.

Rich recommends scrapping the bids and relying on increased enforcement by state, county and local law enforcement.

"This system is not up and running and fully functional in any other state in the union," Rich said.

Concerns discounted

Miller discounted Rich's concerns, saying they are "simply not true."

He said insurance companies are against the camera insurance verification program because it will drive down insurance rates and that will cut into profits of insurance executives.

"They know that this will work," said Miller, chairman of Chicago-based InsureNet. "We know our business very, very well. ... Our technology allows us to know if it's a fleet vehicle."

Miller said he is "mystified" by delays in awarding the contract and hasn't heard anything from Oklahoma officials in a long time.

Poe thinks any problem with fleet vehicles can probably be resolved before tickets are issued.

However, he said, when a driver carries motor vehicle insurance, but the vehicle itself is not insured, a camera system won't detect that and owners of the vehicles likely will get ticket notices that will have to be corrected later. It's not a big problem in Oklahoma because insurance usually goes with the vehicles rather than the driver, he said.

The chairman of MV VeriSol, another company competing for Oklahoma's insurance verification contract, agrees with Miller that fleet vehicles should not be a problem.

Chairman Charles Pecchio said he is more concerned about out-of-state vehicles.

Pecchio thinks additional legislation is needed before issuing citations to out-of-state drivers.

Miller thinks reciprocity agreements among states would allow the consortium he is with to enforce tickets issued to out-of-state vehicles as well as Oklahoma vehicles.

Budget impact

State officials contacted by The Oklahoman did not seem overly concerned about the potential impact on the budget that a loss of some or all of the $50 million in anticipated revenues would have.

Paul Sund, spokesman for Gov. Brad Henry, said revenues from some budget sources usually produce more money than expected and some produce less. He also pointed out the state is only allowed to appropriate 95 percent of anticipated revenues, so a cushion is built in.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee and House Speaker Chris Benge expressed similar sentiments.