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Ohio court orders false alarm fines returned
December 10, 2021
Ohio court orders false alarm fines returned
          I found an article about a court finding that false alarms registration fees and I believe fines charged by the City of Cincinnati Police must be returned to tax payers that had alarm systems. The story is re-printed below.
          There is a Cincinnati local TV station channel 19 that did a story in 2015 on the top false alarm offenders and it turns out that the Cincinnati Public Schools were at the top of the list while the Cincinnati Police own impound lot was third. I do remember a story that talked about when this alarm ordinance was first enacted back in 2003 and a year later (2104) the same new channel did a story on who was the top offender and at that time it was the Cincinnati Police impound lot that caused the majority of false alarms then. I could not find that video on U-tube but it is probably still there just requires some searching for it.
Link to the local channel 19 story:
          It is my understanding that Attorney Chris Finney won his appeal that the city filed against the ruling in his favor the trial court gave him earlier this year.  
          Just though I would pass the story along to you.
Ron Baumann
ProAlert Security Systems, LLC
Cincinnati, Ohio
Here is the story:
Court rules against burglar alarm fees in Cincinnati
Deerfield Media (Cincinnati) Licensee, Llc
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - An appellate judge has ruled against the City of Cincinnati's burglar alarm system fees.
          Since 2014, the city has charged residents $50 every other year to register an alarm system that connects to the police department. The fine for having an unregistered alarm is $100.
          But in 2018, two real estate investors took the city to court over the fees.
          "We were approached by these clients and asked to vindicate this right for everyone, not just for themselves," said attorney Chris Finney.
Earlier in November, The First District Court of Appeals ruled in their favor, declaring the city's fees unlawful.
          "They just indiscriminately said, 'If you want to access police services, you have to pay an extra fee,' which doesn't make any sense since we're already paying for it through our earnings tax," said Finney.
In a written statement, the city said it disagreed with the court's decision and planned to appeal.
          In addition to the registration fee, the city also charges for false alarms.
          Registered alarms get two false calls for free, but there are steep charges for every false call after that, rising from $50 for the third false call to $800 for every false call after the 10th.
          Unregistered alarm owners are charged $800 for every false call.
          Finney believes that the fees are making the city a lot of money.
          "Our estimate is about $400,000 a year. That's our best estimate right now," he said.
Finney said he plans to ask a trial judge to certify his lawsuit as class-action, which would allow anyone who's paid one of these fees to receive a refund.
          I read this court decision when it came out and couldn’t decide whether to start my own action in my home town or publish it here. It slipped through the cracks. Thanks for sending it.
          I happened to think that false alarm permits and fines are akin to red light camera fines and camera speeding fines.  I believe all are designed as revenue raising measure and constitute a tax.  In any case I am aware of the municipality imposing the permit or fine is not authorized to enact a tax, a power reserved to the Federal Government and states, though some states permit local municipalities to impose taxes.  But the permits and fines are always justified by claiming they are necessary for police or fire cost offsets and to facilitate response or deter false alarms.  They are revenue raising measures, plain and simple, though I am not aware of what the ratio between cost of administering the programs and revenue raised amounts to.
          I’m glad a taxpayer had the fortitude to challenge the law and the court had the wisdom to render its decision.  More to come I am sure.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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