Originally Published: November 9, 2013 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Businesses and residents will face stiffer fines for repeated false alarms under an ordinance that the Town Council unanimously introduced Thursday.
The ordinance, which requires a second reading of the council before it goes into effect, establishes a fine of $52 after police respond to the second false alarm within a period of a year. Businesses and residents would be able to waive the first fine by attending a false-alarm online class, similar in concept to traffic school, according to Interim Police Chief James Edelstein.
The town's existing code provides for a criminal penalty of $8 after two false alarms in the same month, with the fines increasing to a maximum of $25 for repeated incidents, Edelstein stated in a staff report to the council.
Edelstein worked with the town attorney's staff to craft an ordinance that increases the fine to offset the $52.20 that it costs to respond to each false call.
He claims the Police Department has responded to approximately 1,200 calls for burglar and robbery alarms from residences and businesses each year for the past decade. False alarms have accounted for more than 99 percent of the calls.
Edelstein previously discussed the proposed ordinance with the council at two work/study meetings.
Responding to a question from Councilwoman Mary Mallory, Edelstein said the majority of the false alarms are at businesses, not homes.
"We are looking at a cost recovery," Edelstein told the council.
The council is likely to conduct the second reading of the ordinance Nov. 21 and adopt it that evening. The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after that vote.
By supporting the ordinance, the council is following the lead of the City of Prescott, which implemented a false-alarm ordinance July 1, 2011, that imposed fines for repeat offenders. Under Prescott's ordinance, violators face fines in $100 increments after two false-alarm warnings.
The council Thursday also voted unanimously for a rezoning to enable Phoenix-based WESCAP Investments to build additional apartment units for seniors off Long Look Drive between Viewpoint and Civic drives. Under the rezones, the SunGate Villa and View Point senior communities will increase the number of units from 168 to 292, according to WESCAP President Bill Spreitzer. "We are sitting here, ready," Spreitzer told the council. "We are owners of real estate. We do not sell our property."
The council also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Tapadero Domestic Wastewater Improvement District in the Prescott Country Club to annex lots and rights of way within it.
Follow reporter Ken Hedler on Twitter @KenHedlines.