Township adopts false alarm fees

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 1/3/00.

False alarms will cost property owners in Paynesville Township.

The township board of supervisors reiterated their fire billing procedure and approved a plan to charge for false police calls.

For fire services, the township is billed by the fire department. The amount per call is based on the department's expenses divided by the total number of calls. Typically each call costs around $3,000.

The township bills homeowners $500 per call. The township's policy is to bill the homeowner if the fire department charges the township.

The board reiterated this policy at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 26, when they decided to charge for a false call in the township because the township was charged.

At that meeting, the board also approved charging for false police calls. The policy is identical to the one adopted by the city of Paynesville a couple weeks ago. It went into effect on the first of the year.

Under the policy, the first two false alarms per year will be free, but the property owner will be charged $50 for the third call, and $100 for the fourth or subsequent false alarms.

The proposal for charging was suggested by Tony Schmitt, Paynesville Police Chief. The number of false alarms in the city and township was up to 86 by the time of the township meeting, according to Schmitt.

"We're going out there for the same reason," said Schmitt. "Either their sensor is not good, it's not working correctly, or they don't know how to operate it."

"Right now, there's just no incentive to get them fixed," he added.

Schmitt stressed that burglar alarms are great. He recalled only one burglary in five years at a location with an alarm. The problem, he said, was that alarms weren't being operated or functioning correctly.

Last year, police officers made repeated trips to several properties to answer false alarms. "It's really a safety issue," said Schmitt. "If you've been to a place eight times, you might think, 'It's just another false alarm.' "

Five township properties would have been affected by this policy in 2000. Each year the slate will be wiped clear at the start of the year.

Schmitt said officers will be giving a letter to homeowners at each false call to explain the new policy. The letter will mark the number of the false call.

"I suppose it should be passed on to the public if it's causing a problem to the department," said supervisor John Atwood.

"There's really no question," said supervisor Warren Nehring. "I think we should have this. I think we should be consistent with the city."

Other business
•One problem for snowplowing is people parking on both sides of the narrow roads by the lake. One time the snowplow was forced to back up a quarter mile because it couldn't make it between two parked cars on Lake Koronis Road.

The board didn't want to post no parking areas by the lake, but hoped the public would use common sense. "A guy is just going to have to figure it out that if the road's not plowed they better get their car off the road," said Nehring.

•The board set their qualification and business meeting for Thursday, March 22. They will qualify the election results after the annual meeting and set rates for the next year.

•The board approved having clerk Don Wiese hire three election judges for the annual election.

•The board authorized Mike Jensen, maintenance man, to investigate a hood for the pressure washer in the township's workshop. The hood is needed to vent the fumes.

Return to Archives