Lexington Council to Consider Fees for Alarm System Users

An Urban County Council committee tentatively approved a police department proposal to charge a $15 annual fee to each business and homeowner with an alarm system to reduce the number of false alarms.

The services committee amended the police department's proposal to make the alarm company responsible for registering the alarms it monitors and collecting the $15 annual fee.

The committee also excluded medical alarms from the types of alarms affected by the ordinance.

The committee recommendation will be forwarded to the full council for discussion next Tuesday.

The police department proposed the change to the alarm ordinance in November as a way to reduce the number of false alarm calls, so officers would be free to handle other priority calls.

Police responded to more than 15,000 alarm calls in both 2001 and 2002, and more than 99 percent of them turned out to be false. In all, about 7 percent of the department's workload comes from answering false alarms.

In addition to the $15 annual fee, the police department has proposed stiffer penalties for false alarms: a $100 fine for unregistered alarm systems and a $25 fee after the fourth false alarm in a calendar year. The fine could reach a maximum of $500 after the ninth false alarm.

The police also want to create a three-person False Alarm Reduction Unit -- a sergeant and two staff assistants -- to oversee registering every business and residential alarm in the city for a $15 annual fee. The estimated $225,000 to $300,000 generated from the fee would be used to pay for the unit.

Currently, the alarm ordinance requires a $15 one-time registration fee. If there are more than five false alarms within a 90-day period at one address, the permit for that site could be suspended.