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Panel balks at fee hike for city alarm permits

March 14, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A proposal to double the permit fee for burglar alarms in Los Angeles drew objections Tuesday from police commissioners, who worried that it might further discourage people from paying the cost.

About 38% of residents and businesses with alarms lack permits but that is down sharply from past years, officials said.

The Police Commission staff proposed raising the annual permit fee from $31 to $63 to recover the cost of processing permits.

"The city has a policy in which the city tries to obtain full cost recovery for all of the special services the city provides to a particular segment of the city's population," said Saul Romo, an analyst for the panel.

However, some commissioners suggested the proposed increase might be counterproductive.

About 112,800 residents and business owners have permits but an estimated 71,000 alarm owners do not. If the Police Department responds to an alarm at an address without a permit, the owner is fined.

"We are trying to find additional ways to encourage people to have alarm permits and yet we are proposing more than doubling the fee," said Commissioner Alan Skobin. He said city analysts should explore whether a higher fee might work against the city's permitting efforts.

The proposed alarm fees are part of a larger ordinance that would set costs for commission services, and the commission delayed action on the entire package to review whether the fee hikes are appropriate.

Commissioner Shelley Freeman said she wanted more analysis.

"They just kind of raised my eyebrows, frankly," Freeman said. "Do these changes allow us to remain competitive in the marketplace while at the same time allowing us to optimize revenue generation?"

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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