Warren seeking more taxes

If you can’t tax ’em, fine ’em.

Too often that’s the motto of local government, such as Toledo where traffic cameras, installed for ”safety,” not for revenue, according to city officials, generated $3 million in fines in 2012.

With its residents taxed out and traffic cameras overruled by overwhelming public sentiment, Warren officials are now trying to break into the ”if you can tax ’em, fine ’em” cliche by considering alarm fees and false alarm fines to generate revenue.

Police and fire personnel responded to an average of 3,500 home and business alarms annually over the last five years, Warren safety officials said. Between 90 percent and 95 percent were false alarms, they added. So City Council is looking at passing legislation that would fine owners of properties that have repeated false alarms.

”The goal of this legislation is not to create revenue for the city, but to find a way to significantly reduce or eliminate false alarms in the city,” Councilman Vince Flask said.

Flask and some of his colleagues want alarm systems registered annually with a $25 residential and $50 commercial tax. Additionally, beginning with the third instance, a false alarm tax of up to $200 would be assessed. Some of the money would go to a company hired to monitor false alarms and collect the tax. The rest of the money would likely go into the city’s general fund that provides salaries and benefits for employees.

Among the problems is that the city itself, because of low water pressure, sometimes triggers false fire alarms. And sometimes outside factors, such as a bird flying into a window, could trigger a residential alarm.

But the biggest problem is the simple fact that some city leaders continue to search for inventive ways to squeeze more money from taxpayers.