False alarm ordinance compliance push tied to utilities

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12/08/2008
It struck me as a little odd this morning when I read that the Cordele, Ga. city commissioners had decided to add false alarm fines to alarm users' utility bills, and that failure to pay the false alarm fines would result in loss of utilities. An excerpt of the story, from the Cordele Dispatch, follows: CORDELE, Ga. According to the Cordele Dispatch, city commissioners here voted on Dec. 4 to adopt a new ordinance that will result in fees for excessive false alarms. The move comes from concerns that false alarms generated by alarm systems in city residences and businesses often lead to a misallocation of police manpower. Once the ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2009 alarm users will be allowed five false alarms for the year. Any false alarms past five will result in the user being charged a fine. The sixth and seventh false alarms will carry a $50 fine each. False alarms 8, 9 and 10 will result in a $100 fine for each. Alarm users will be fined $250 each for the 11th and 12th false alarm, and a $500 fine will follow 13 or more false alarms. Fines will be added to the utility bill of the user. Failure to pay fines will result in loss of utilities. The ordinance extends to churches and schools as well as residences and businesses. Alarms installed on motor vehicles, fire alarms, domestic violence alarm, or alarms designed to elicit a medical response are not covered by the ordinance. Users will be required to fill out an application and register their alarm systems through the Cordele Police Department and pay a registration fee of $10. Anyone failing to register an alarm system will be fined $100. Now keep in mind, I live and work in Maine, where right now it is a crisp 20 degrees out. It seems kind of scary to me that the city could take away my utilities, my heat, even though I've paid my obscene oil bill. Don't get me wrong, I know that the city needs to recoup losses due to excessive false alarms, and attempt to implement some sort of system to hopefully encourage people to make sure their systems work properly, but messing with people's water, electricity or heat seems a little over the top to me. Well, I guess that's one more reason to be sure your alarm systems are registered and in proper working order.