The Wilton Board of Selectmen is mulling a proposal to modify the fine structure for false alarms, as well as the penalties for homeowners who fail to register their alarms.
Currently Wilton's alarm ordinance uses a tiered penalty system for false alarm violations: The first two false alarms are "free," the third and fourth each result in a $50 penalty, and each subsequent false alarm results in a $100 penalty.
The proposal to modify the town's alarm ordinance would institute a flat $100 fine, starting with the third occurrence (i.e. the first two false alarms would remain "free"). In addition it would increase the penalty for failing to register an alarm to $50, from the current $25, with a mandatory $100 registration fee.
Homeowners would have 45 days to register their new alarms (or new home's alarm) with the Wilton Police Department, whereas currently they have only 30 days. In addition the registration fee of $100 would be a one time fee, whereas currently it is $5 per year.
During Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, town CFO Sandy Dennies, acting in her capacity as alarm administrator, pointed out that the ordinance — and more specifically the fine structure — hasn't been modified in 12 years. She said the proposed changes would bring the ordinance more in line with what surrounding towns have in place.
Wilton Tax Collector Phil Damato, acting in his capacity alarm registrar, said whenever new people move to town, or a homeowner installs a new alarm system, they are contacted by the fire marshal and reminded to get the system registered.
He said the town takes in about $18,000 to $20,000 a year in false alarm fines and alarm registration fees.
Second Selectman Harold Clark said he thought $100 per incident, following the first two "free" alarms, was fair considering "it costs the town more than $100 to respond" to a single false alarm.
First Selectman William Brennan said the main point in modifying the ordinance is to get better compliance from homeowners.
"We're just trying to get people to register [their alarms], that's the main purpose here," he said.
Brennan said the selectmen will be setting a date for an informational meeting on the proposal. He pointed out that the proposed ordinance change would require approval by the appropriate legislative town bodies.