Greensboro, N.C. city council decides to back higher false alarm fines

Estimate shows unnecessary responses cost city nearly $3M last year

June 13--GREENSBORO -- New fines for false police and fire alarms may be even steeper than originally proposed.

Last month, the City Council first discussed new fines for false alarms, which city staff estimated cost Greensboro nearly $3 million last year for unnecessary responses from the police and fire departments.

The city estimated it could make $575,000 by charging home and business owners $50 for each false alarm after their second one within a year. The fine could also curb the amount of time emergency services spend responding to false alarms, said City Manager Jim Westmoreland, as people likely would take greater care to avoid false alarms in order to avoid the fine.

At a council work session on Thursday, Councilman Jamal Fox suggested the city go a step further, charging $100 after the first false alarm.

Councilman Tony Wilkins said he'd support going even higher, to $200 on the second false alarm.

"When you take into account the money spent and what you're taking away from public safety, I feel like we shouldn't be too soft," Wilkins said.

Councilman Zack Matheny suggested a compromise -- a $50 fine for the second false alarm and $100 for a third.

A majority of the council agreed. The council will vote on the change at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Contact Joe Killian at (336) 373-7023, and follow @JoeKillianNR on Twitter.

Copyright 2014 - News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.