Alarming tax

Alarming tax

Story By: STAFF WRITER
3/31/2016


Some Suffolk County residents will have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to come up with the money to pay for a fee on their home security systems. In a region where taxes on all levels of government have put a strain on middle class families, this is yet another burden for them to bear. This new program begins on April 1 and is not a joke.

Here’s the situation: Anyone who has a home security alarm system that’s connected to a service station must register their alarm with the county and pay an annual tax of $50 or $100 for an alarmed business. After that, the home/business owner is allowed two free false alarms. If there are more, the home/business owner will be fined for each false alarm thereafter. 

This new law—which did not have unanimous support in the legislature—was recently signed by that governing body. It is now drawing an irate reaction from many alarm owners who are wondering why they’re being penalized for trying to protect their homes and businesses. Well, apparently the number of false alarms (reportedly 97,000 annually) has put a strain on Suffolk County Police, who must go to each of the locations to check it out. But, let’s think about this: isn’t that part of their job that every home/business owner pays for in their property taxes?

Here’s another thing to consider: What if the alarm goes off and scares the would-be burglar away before the police arrive? How is a false alarm determined in that scenario?

It’s understandable that some neglectful home/business owners might be taking advantage of the system by having a faulty or mismanaged alarm that calls out the police way too often when they could be patrolling somewhere else. So in that case, just fine them. Why penalize everyone with another annual tax on top of the initial cost of installing a security system, as well as the monthly rate that is paid to the alarm company that oversees it, not to mention the itemized line on the tax bill that is for the police?

Alarm systems are installed to protect people and personal property. However, in light of this new law, some might now reconsider installing one. And if they already have one, they might just decide to keep it disconnected for fear of the fiscal punishment that might result from a false alarm. That’s a darn shame. 

The home/business owners needn’t worry about getting ripped off by burglars anyway. This law is already doing a pretty good job of it.