Wichita council votes to waive $25 alarm fee for residents who don’t have false alarms

Wichita residents or businesses who go a year without a false alarm on their security system will save $25 annually after the City Council agreed on a 5-0 vote today to change the ordinance to waive the fee.

Council members Paul Gray and Lavonta Williams were absent.

The city adopted an annual registration fee for security alarms earlier this year. The change will take effect after Sept. 1, 2011.

The waiver will apply to a renewal where the owner doesn’t have a false alarm in the previous year. The annual period is based on the original registration date.

City staff recommended the change to “shift the administrative cost of implementing the false alarm ordinance to only alarm owners that generate costly false alarms,” according to a city document.

False alarms cost the city about $3 million a year. The city responds to about 25,000 alarms a year, and about 98 percent are false calls.

In June, the council approved a revision in the ordinance that included the $25 fee. The change also included a graduated fee schedule with costs increasing after each additional false alarm.

The $25 fee helps recoup the costs of administering the system, city officials have said. The city spends about $335,000 to manage the system, City Finance Director Kelly Carpenter has said. The fee has been estimated to generate about $328,000 annually.