Columbus City Council is looking to update its laws regarding the use of alarm systems.

Councilman Mitchell Brown, chairman of Columbus City Council's public safety committee, said discussions are being held regarding a section of city law that was written in 1998 and received a fee-increase update in 2003

A glaring issue the committee wants to address is the 34,312 false alarms in 2016.

"A code change is needed for two reasons," Brown said. "One, the technology used in the alarm industry has changed significantly since this code was initially written and, therefore, an update is needed to adequately regulate this industry.

"Secondly, this code change looks to reduce the drain of false alarms on public-safety resources."

Of the major changes being considered is the city would eliminate the practice of not charging a fee for one false alarm. Rates would then be set for different kinds of alarm activations -- panic, robbery and burglary, for example -- which require varied responses from the Columbus Division of Police and the Division of Fire.

The proposed legislation would require alarm-users to update their licenses annually instead of every two years. Officials say that would allow current alarm-user information to be maintained in the city system. It would also permit more efficient billing and collection of fees and list whom actually owns and is responsible for the alarm system.

The license fee is now $35. Under the new law, users would have 30 days from installation to obtain a license, which would cost $45 and $25 for each renewal period. For those 70 years old and older, the license fee would be dropped to $15 and there would be no cost for annual updates.

Commercial alarm-users, would also be charged an initial $35 and then would see their rates increase to $75 to obtain a license and $35 per annual renewal. Banks rates would jump from $35 to $55 for a new license, with a $25 renewal fee.

The law also would affect alarm dealers and companies.

One provision would require the companies to test their systems after installation to reduce alarm calls for faulty equipment.

Under the proposed law, an alarm-dealer license would increase from $200 to $400, but required to be renewed only every two years, at $250, instead of every year.

Ramona Patts, administrator of support services for the public safety department, said Columbus officials looked at other cities of comparable size when determining a proper fee schedule and charges related to false alarms.

Alarm systems have become extremely intricate, some with settings that can be activated with a cellphone, Patts said.

Columbus is proposing offering classes to teach people how to properly set the various functions on their alarms. In return, those residents would be given a break in licensing fees, she said.

"They're very complicated," Patts said. "What we're going to do is educate the public on how to use their alarm systems."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary