Anne Fauver readily concedes her proposals for bringing in new city revenue amount to rummaging for change between the municipal couch cushions.
The Atlanta councilwoman estimates her two suggestions could raise upwards of $3 million. Thats not much compared to the half-billion-dollar city budget, but until someone comes up with a better idea, the council will take what it can get.
Fauver has proposed legislation to allow the city to expand its 911 tax to include users Voice-over-Internet phone service. The monthly tax, which currently applies to cell and land-line phones, is used to fund the citys 911 system. Closing the Internet-phone loophole could net the city an additional $1.5 million, Fauver says.
Her other proposal is aimed at reclaiming costs for false burglar and fire alarms, which most folks likely assume the city already collecting. Though police collected false-alarm fines totaling about $1.4 million in 2000, Fauver was surprised to discover that number has tapered off. Since 2005, almost no fines have been collected, even though 90 percent of all 911 calls reporting possible break-ins and fires are caused by faulty home-alarm systems or homeowner error.
We just basically stopped collecting, says Fauver, whose legislation would shift collection duties from the cops to the city court. Under her proposal, the 911 system would report false alarms to the city Solicitors Office, which would issue warnings and citations.
Homeowners would get one free false alarm a year; fines would start at $100 for the second alarm and go up from there. Unpaid fines would be turned over to the same private collection agency that hounds people for delinquent water bills and license fees.
Fauvers confident the effort could bring in $1.5 million a year. Gradually, we could reduce the number of false alarms because people would learn to be more careful, she says.
If approved by Council, the new programs would kick in Jan. 1.
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