Riverhead looks to cut $25 alarm permit fee businesses must pay

The $25 fee businesses must pay for alarm system permits will be a thing of the past under a proposal by Supervisor Sean Walter, but businesses still will be required to register all alarm systems with the police.

Mr. Walter asked town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz to draw up a proposed local law to eliminate the fee at last Thursday’s public Town Board work session.

“I think we made a mistake that we didn’t realize we made when we said we were going to charge $25 for the fee for the alarm system registration,” Mr. Walter told Mr. Kozakiewicz during the meeting.

A number of business owners were not happy about the fee.

“We won’t charge the $25 fee but you still have to register your alarms because people’s lives are at stake when these fire alarms go off,” Mr. Walter said.

Because the fee is included in the town code, a public hearing, which also requires a two-week public hearing notice, must occur first. That hearing had not yet been scheduled. The town required the permit in response to a large number of false alarms.

Councilmembers George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio supported elimination of the fee, while Councilman John Dunleavy was concerned about how the town would pay for the registration program. Councilman Jim Wooten was absent for this discussion.
The fee has actually been on the books for many years but wasn’t enforced until a couple of weeks ago, when town police sent a letter to all business owners telling them they needed to register their alarms and pay a $25 fee to do so, along with a $10 annual renewal fee. The letter also spoke of fines for excessive false alarms. Mr. Walter said the fines will remain the same and the police department will be instructed not to deposit any checks it has already received for the $25 fee.

Police Chief David Hegemiller, whose department issued the letter, said this week he had not yet heard of plans to eliminate the fees.

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