Alarm fees may rise

The Board of Selectmen reviewed a plan Monday to raise the fees for repeat violators with false alarms and impose stiffer penalties for homeowners who fail to register their alarm systems with the town.

Addressing Monday's regular Board of Selectmen's meeting, Sandy Dennies, the town's chief financial officer, said the town is using a new system, which requires "altering our billing methodology." This resulted in the proposal, which calls for allowing two free false alarms, followed by a $100 fine for the third.

"This is per year, from July 1 to June 30," said Phil Damato, the town's tax collector.

Currently the fee for a third and fourth false alarm is $50, with a $100 fee attached to any false alarms beyond that.

Also, the new plan includes an increase in the penalty for failing to register an alarm to $50, up from the current fee of $25. "If you have a false alarm and you are not registered, you will be charged the $100 false alarm fee, and a $50 failure-to-register fee," Mr. Damato said. "You will not receive the two free false alarms."

However, residents would be granted 45 days to register their alarms, instead of the current time frame of 30 days.

Mr. Damato said there is no fee to register. He added the town receives approximately $18,000-$20,000 a year in alarm-related fees.

Ms. Dennies said the fees have not been raised in 12 years and the new penalties would align with those of neighboring towns.

According to the ordinance, the goal is to "promote responsible use of alarm systems in Wilton and reduce the number of false alarms. A reduction in false alarms and the related responses by emergency vehicles will improve general public safety on the highways and reduce wear and tear on emergency equipment," among other similar issues.

First Selectman Bill Brennan said the first step in changing the ordinance will be a public informational meeting, and the selectmen plan to set a date.