WARREN, Ohio - An ordinance change proposal in the city could increase false alarm fees for businesses.
Councilman Vincent Flask, police and fire chairman, called a council meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the changes to the ordinance dealing with false alarms.
Under the current city ordinance, home owners and businesses pay a $60 connection fee for the alarm system, a $36 per year service fee and a $25 penalty for each false alarm after the third false alarm.
The change to the ordinance would increase the fee for businesses to $25 for the second false alarm, $50 for the third false alarm and $75 for every false alarm thereafter.
False alarms, as defined in the ordinance, are alarms that result from a malfunction in the alarm system rather than an actual emergency.
Flask says the purpose of the ordinance change is to curtail the amount of false alarms the city receives because of alarm owners that do not fix the alarm malfunction right away.
He reports that 85 percent of the city's 3,500 calls are false alarms.
Councilwoman Helen Rucker says the problem right now is that police have not billed for the false alarm fees in the past, and now the problem has gotten out of hand.
"All we need is someone to do the billing and I believe it can be done in house," she says.
Flask says they have looked at different departments in the city that could possibly take on the billing load, but ultimately the decision of enforcement is up to the police who say it's too much for their department to handle.
Rucker worries the increased fee is going to cause city residents and businesses more just so an outside consulting company can be brought in.
Rucker hopes to find out at Tuesday evening's meeting what other plans the police department has researched.
"If they're going to increase the fee, they have to justify why," she says.
Rucker also worries that an outside billing agency is going to cost the city's elderly residents who don't understand their alarm system and how to turn it off in the event of a false alarm.
"It's not a problem for the police officer to check on seniors," Rucker says.
It's expected that the ordinance will be put up for a vote at the April 10 council meeting.