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Red-light camera

A red-light camera is seen at the intersection of Sergeant Road and South Lakeport Street in Sioux City.

Journal file photo by Jim Lee

SIOUX CITY - Jim Thomas was certain that he paid his $195 fine for running a red light in October 2010 at one of the city's eight intersections monitored by Redflex cameras.

A letter the Hornick, Iowa, man received in the mail Wednesday said otherwise.

According to the city-issued form, Thomas only paid $110 of the fine and had just 15 days to come up with the other $85.

"That was a bill I knew I paid because I hated every minute of it,” Thomas said.

Thomas contacted Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems. A help center operator advised him to send in his credit card statement to prove an error had been made.

Fearing he might be the victim of a scam, Thomas notified Sioux City police.

Capt. Melvin Williams said Thursday that 74 people, whose violations were transferred to the court system, received the notices due to a computer glitch.

In June, 500 people were given red-light tickets instead of speed camera tickets. New tickets for speeding violations were issued.  

Williams explained that the city sent a check for the court costs, which it covers, to an independent bank that distributes the funds from red-light citations to the city and Redflex.

Due to a computer glitch, the city's payment of the court costs was not deducted from the total fine; and letters were automatically generated to red-light violators informing them that they were delinquent.

Sioux City police first learned of the error when Thomas called them. Redflex staff were not aware of the mistake until they were contacted by the police department, according to Williams.

He said the department is working with Redflex to make sure the mistake doesn't happen again and is also in the process of notifying the 74 people who were affected.

"For those we had phone numbers for, there were phone calls placed (Thursday), and that's being followed up by a letter that's going to be sent saying, 'it was computer error, we apologize. You don't owe anything, and it's all taken care of,'" Williams said.

He said the city will refund the money of anyone who may have overpaid.

Journal reporter Molly Montag contributed to this story.

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