May 2012 - Posts
For the first time since 2004, Bexar County is increasing fees on alarm system permits for residences and businesses in unincorporated areas.
The fee for residential permits rises to $40 a year, up from the rate of $30 set eight years ago.
Business permits increase to $100 annually, from $35.
The move comes as the sheriff's office, along with the rest of county government, struggles to make ends meet. The new fees will generate almost $530,000, more than double last year's revenues of about $228,000.
Deputy Chief Debra Jordan said the fee structure had been under review “for quite some time ... certainly our costs have gone up” for mileage and other expenses related to responding to alarm calls.
“We're just trying to raise our fees so we can be more on the level of what's appropriate in terms of other venues our size,” Jordan told commissioners.
The county has about 12,000 registered residential alarm systems and 520 business alarms, but officials said many others are not registered.
A large number of false alarms to caused Vigo County, IN, leaders to take action.
When the Vigo County Sheriff's Department looked over just how much time was being spent responding to false alarms, they decided it was time to take action.
Together both the commissioners and the sheriff’s department drew up a new ordinance dealing with false alarms.
If a business or homeowner wants an alarm system, they are required to pay a one-time fee of $30 to $50. After two false alarm free-bees the owner would receive a fine of $50.
Judy Anderson, Vigo County Commissioner says, "They brought documentation of how many false alarms they’ve had for a year. It takes gas, wear and tear and ties up man power. It's a real expensive thing when you stop and think about it."
Officials want the new ordinance to make homeowners and businesses more responsible in checking and repairing faulty alarms.
The Steamboat Springs, CO, City Council will consider revisions Tuesday night to the ordinance it first adopted in 2010. The new ordinance would do away with the escalating fine structure that currently charges building owners $100 for a second false alarm violation and $100 more for every subsequent violation.
The proposed revisions include not levying fines until the false alarm ordinance has been violated more than six times in a year.
“The bite is still there, and I think something will still be in place to remedy the serious violations,” Public Safety Director Joel Rae said Monday. “The whole goal of this ordinance is to get people to repair their alarm problem before they get to a violation and ultimately reduce false alarms and not waste the time of police and firefighters who are responding to them.”
According to Rae, as of Feb. 1, police have handed out $24,600 in fines for false alarms since the ordinance was enacted. But the department has collected only $6,250 of those fines. At the same time, the fire department has assessed $9,100 in fines but collected just $3,250.
Chester, PA council unanimously approved a new alarm ordinance May 10.
Chester, PA, will now require registration for existing and new alarm systems. There is no charge for registration, but failing to register an alarm system may result in a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $300.
The city will also implement fines for false alarms. Any company or individual who causes a false alarm and does nothing to prevent false alarms will be fined up to $500. Repeat offenders will pay a $300 fine for each false alarm after the fourth incidence.
The Fayetteville, GA, City Council approved a new alarm ordinance that went into effect March 20, 2012. The need for the ordinance was said to come from the fact that 80 percent of calls result in false alarms.
Fayetteville Police Dept. spokesman Steve Crawshaw said response to alarm calls represents a significant expenditure of police resources.
“It only makes sense that real time and money could be saved if alarm system users were more aware of this problem and took steps to prevent false activations,” Crawshaw said.
The city of Fayetteville has approved an ordinance that will address the false alarm problem by requiring the responsible involvement of alarm users and alarm companies.
Crawshaw said the department answered 2,066 police-related alarm calls in 2011.
“Of those, 1,656 or approximately 80 percent, were false activations and were the result of operator error or a malfunctioning alarm system,” Crawshaw said.
Largo, FL, city officials plan to review their policies pertaining to false alarms and calls to Largo police and fire departments.
City Commissioner Curtis Holmes raised the issue at the commission’s April 10 work session.
He said that as of April 9, the fire department had responded to 234 false alarms from the start of the calendar year.
“I thought, my god, we ought to bill these people to that. We are dispatching these trucks and there’s just nothing,” he said.
The city currently only fines offenders with six or more false alarms on record.
Other commissioners also said staff should look into the matter.
The Holland Township, MI, Board of Trustees has approved a false fire alarm ordinance that will require repeat offenders to pay $750 for each false alarm.
The Holland Township Fire Department responds to an average of 100 false alarms annually, and most are recurrences due to automated equipment.
Under the new ordinance, the board will send out a letter for excessive false fire alarms. Failure to respond to the letter will cost users $500 for the first two false alarms and $750 for subsequent false alarms.
The Bend, OR, City Council may require business and homeowners to pay a yearly registration fee security alarm systems and possibly fines for false alarms.
Police Chief Jeff Sale says calls to police are projected to go up by six to nine percent every year for the next 5 years.
“We will do everything we can to be as efficient as we can," he says. "We will squeeze a dollar out of dime wherever we can. But at some point there is a breaking point that says, “I can’t provide this level of service with the resources that I have”.
Some of the recent changes include a decision to stop sending officers to the scene of some minor fender benders. The council is expected to take up the alarm proposal two weeks from now.
Mount Pleasant, IL, business owners face increased fines for false alarm, which are defined as a security alert that is triggered by anything other than a true emergency.
In 2011 alone, Mount Pleasant Police answered over 700 false alarms, and annual costs are around $56,000, Chief Tim Zarzecki said.
To help recoup that cost, the Village Board last week approved a fee increase for multiple false alarms. First and second instances will be answered free of charge, but hit a third occurrence and the costs kick in at $30. Charges go up from there by $10 for each subsequent false alarm call, maxing out at $130 for 11 or more incidents.
Previous charges were minimal, starting at only $10 for a third call, going to $25 for a fourth, and maxing out at $50 thereafter.
The Brewster, WA, City Council considered a proposed draft ordinance pertaining to recurring false alarms for enforcement after a few businesses fail to correct the problem.
Brewster Mayor, Lee Webster says the council is just discussing the possible ordinance at this point.
The Brewster City Council will likely visit the topic again during their next meeting, which will be held Wednesday, February 8th at 6 pm at the Brewster City Hall.