The Crescent City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance that sets fees for false alarms and 911 hang-ups, but not for responses to actual fires and traffic collisions.
Along with the ordinance, Council members unanimously approved a corresponding fee schedule.
After receiving two warnings, residents could be charged up to $200 for a false burglar alarm and up to $350 for a false robbery alarm. Residential and commercial property owners would also receive a warning for fire and police response to false fire alarms before being charged up to $250.
As for 911 hang-ups, people would receive a warning for the first hang-up and a fee of up to $200 for the second and subsequent hang-ups. The fee schedule establishes a $161 fee for a utility that requests standby service from the Fire Department. Property owners who request an emergency inspection of a building or other hazardous situation could also be charged a $41 per hour fee.
Although she voted in favor of the ordinance, Councilwoman Kathryn Murray said she’s not enthusiastic about charging fees for emergency response to false alarms and 911 hang-ups because many people don’t have the ability to pay them.
“What I’d like to do is make the suggestion if this does pass, that we have a revenue-generated report in a year to show us how valuable this really is,” she said.
City Manager Eugene Palazzo said city employees will track the amount of revenue that is generated by the ordinance, as well as the number of police and fire department calls that come in. He added that the ordinance isn’t intended to generate revenue, but to reduce the number of false alarms police officers and firefighters respond to.
During the public comment period, resident Richard Miles brought up a comment Crescent City Mayor Richard Enea made at the Jan. 22 meeting. At that meeting Enea said the state charges a $1,000 fine for 911 hang-ups. Miles suggested the city adopt the state’s fine.
“If you want to put teeth to this, $200 doesn’t cut it,” he said.
When the ordinance was introduced in December, the initial proposal of establishing fees for response to residential and commercial fires and traffic collisions drew an outcry from city and county residents.
The initial ordinance and resolution proposed fees of $423 for up to three hours of response to a residential fire. It also proposed a fee of $101 for scene safety, assessment and the investigation of a traffic collision.