Lexington Makes Adjustments to Alarm Ordinance

Lexington, Ky., has announced changes to the city's alarm ordinance, with approval of an annual fee that passed the Urban County Council on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005.

The updated ordinance requires a $15 annual fee for registration of alarms systems, and makes the alarm companies responsible for collecting the annual fee for the alarms they monitor.

The new ordinance also increased the fines for false alarms and specified the formation of a False Alarm Reduction Unit that will be staffed by three persons and will oversee the new changes.

According to a report in the (Lexington) Herald-Leader newspaper, the changes follow findings that close to 7 percent of the police department's workload is spent on alarm calls, with roughly 99 percent of those calls being false responses.

The ordinance increase false alarm fees, and sets a $25 fine for each false alarm after the fourth during a calendar year. The Herald-Leader also reported that the ordinance also specifies that the fee schedule will change in 2006, with a $15 fine after the second false alarm. Fees increase up to a maximum of $500 for the ninth false alarm.

Also adjusted was a policy that requires monitoring companies to attempt two calls to verify the accuracy of the alarm before alerting the police for a response.

According to Mike Zydor, who handles dealer relations for Affiliated Central, a national UL-approved monitoring company with accounts in the Lexington area, said that making monitoring companies collect the annual permitting fee would be an administrative nightmare.

"It would be a lot of additional work," Zydor said of the possibility of having to collect and disperse the annual permit fee money. "We would probably have to charge accordingly. We would probably have to place another person on staff and pay their salary."

Zydor said that the reason that more and more city councils are focusing on monitoring companies is simply a product of the path-of-least-resistance mindset.

"The reason they're coming to the monitoring center is because they can identify us. It's very easy to find us and make us do things, since we're the ones that contact them. It's harder to track down 250 [dealer] companies than it is to track down five monitoring providers."

However, says Zydor, the problem comes from a misunderstanding about the relationship in the alarm business between the end user, the dealer and the monitoring company.

"They [the legislative decision makers] don't understand the relationship. The don't understand that I'm a contractor and our business is not designed to be in contact with the end user. It's a case where the dealer wouldn't want us to be in touch -- they're the ones responsible for servicing the equipment, maintaining the relationship."

To see the report from the Lexington Herald-Leader, visit the following link: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/10852151.htm.