At the Sept. 27 Glen Cove City Council meeting, the city, under Resolution 6-D on the agenda, officially entered into an agreement with Bus Patrol America, LLC to install and operate photo violation monitoring systems on school buses to record violations.
The City Council’s vote in favor of the agreement comes after a Special City Council meeting held mid-June that consisted of a public hearing and a resolution of the adoption of a School Bus Photo Violation Monitoring System to the Code of Ordinances.
And while all the members of the City Council seemed to be in agreement of recording drivers who do not stop when school buses are letting off children, Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy Scagliola and Councilman Kevin Maccarone expressed hesitation to enter into the agreement just yet, as the contract with Nassau County has not yet been complete.
“I would like to table [Resolution] 6-D because without the contract with Nassau County, I feel concerned about entering into the agreement without understanding the terms,” Councilwoman Fugazy Scagliola said. “I think I’ve made it clear that I care about this and I care about the safety of our kids, but I’m not under the opinion that anything is better than nothing. I want to make sure we’re getting the right deal. We just have no insight into that at all.”
She then made a motion to table Resolution 6-D. Councilman Maccarone seconded the motion.
City of Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck explained that the resolution would allow her to begin the process that would eventually lead to the installation of the cameras, and that she would not just enter into a contract.
The City Attorney Tip Henderson was asked for his input at the meeting.
“The contract that’s on the table is a contract between the City of Glen Cove and Bus Patrol,” Henderson said. “Bus Patrol has been in negotiation with the county to adjudicate those tickets that might be issued for people passing stopped school buses… the county has primary jurisdiction over adjudicating these tickets, the same with red light tickets. That has not been finalized yet. But the contract between us and Bus Patrol is in final form. It’s been signed by Bus Patrol. It provides for the funds that are generated by the program to be split 55 percent to the city and 45 percent to Bus Patrol. How those monies that are generated by the tickets are shared with the county is the thing that Councilwoman Fugazy Scagliola is concerned about. But it really is not a direct concern of ours.”
Henderson went on to explain that if Nassau County does not work out a deal or contract with Bus Patrol with how the tickets will be adjudicated, then the program will not go forward. And the City of Glen Cove is not the only municipality launching this program; as North Hempstead and the Town of Oyster Bay are also making a determination on how the tickets will be adjudicated with the county. While the program is likely to go through, on the off chance that it doesn’t, Glen Cove would either set up its own adjudication program or the program would not go forward. Overall, there is no risk to the city to go forward with the contract, Henderson explained.
“What you’re saying is obviously correct that this is just an agreement between us and Bus Patrol, but I am hesitant to sign an agreement with Bus Patrol and then find out in some way that the revenue share for us is minimal,” Councilwoman Fugazy Scagliola said. “Our people are going to be essentially tapped. I do agree with the compliance. I have four kids who get on buses every day… but there’s a balance of how much we’re going to irritate people with this.”
Councilwoman Fugazy Scagliola then asked Henderson if the 55 percent that the city receives is definitive, and if Bus Patrol and the county would determine how they would split their monies.
“I can’t tell you what Bus Patrol would try to work out with the county,” Henderson said. “But if it impacts our deal with Bus Patrol, they have to come back to us and they have to get our approval to amend our deal.”
The harm in waiting to see an agreement between Bus Patrol and the county before signing the contract, Henderson also explained, is that it would delay a program that has already taken months to pass. If the program could move forward, Bus Patrol could begin installing cameras on the buses, and in the first month of the program, violators who pass stopped school buses would receive warnings, not tickets.
And even if Bus Patrol installed the cameras, and the City of Glen Cove decided to cancel the program because it found that the county wanted to take more than the city found acceptable, it would all be on Bus Patrol and not the city, Henderson said.
Councilwoman Fugazy Scagliola was not convinced that the city should go ahead with signing the contract without seeing the contract with the county, but she voted in favor of Resolution 6-D because she supported the favor. Councilman Maccarone did not vote in favor of the program because he wanted to see what the county would do. All other members of the council and Mayor Panzenbeck voted in favor of the resolution.
As previously reported by the Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot:
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, school buses are unlike other vehicles because they take longer to stop and need more room to maneuver. They also carry school children. When drivers encounter a bus, the DMV says drivers should slow down because school buses make frequent stops. School buses are also required by law to stop at rail crossings. Drivers should also be alert for children and parents that may be waiting at a school bus or running to catch the bus before it departs.
Drivers must stop at least 20 feet away from the bus. And before moving the vehicle, drivers should be extra careful as children may be walking in front of, behind or on the side of the bus.
Passing a school bus while it’s stopped for the purpose of dropping off or picking up passengers, indicated by flashing red lights on the school bus’s stop sign, results in legal and financial consequences for the vehicle operators.
On first conviction, the driver can receive a fine between $250 and $400 and/or up to 30 days in jail; the second conviction within three years can result in a fine of $600 to $750 and/or up to 180 days in jail and the third conviction, or more, within three years can result in a fine of $750 to $1,00 and/or up to 180 days in jail. Five points will be added to the driver’s record with each conviction.
To catch more violators in the act, a law was passed in 2019 that authorized school districts and municipalities to use cameras on school buses.
Violations from these cameras are $250 for the first offense, $275 for the second offense within 18 months and $300 for the third or more violation within 18 months.
“I am supportive of any measure that increases student safety,” Glen Cove City School District Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna said.
Update on overnight commercial
vehicle parking regulations:
Last month, the Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot reported on a hearing held by the Glen Cove City Council that would close a loophole in the enforcement of preventing commercial vehicles from being parked in residential streets and driveways overnight. It was confirmed that the City Council did indeed close the public hearing at the Aug. 23 City Council meeting and voted in favor of enforcing a law that has been on the books for 20 years but has not been enforceable because of a loophole. Glen Cove residents could receive a ticket if they park a commercial vehicle in their driveway or on the street overnight. But residents can park their commercial vehicles in their garages.