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Company to collect Long Beach false alarm fines

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue.

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. The police station and fire department are attached to the building. (June 21, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Long Beach, seeking to drive down false burglar alarms and save on personnel costs, has hired a Texas company to collect the fines the city levies for false alarms.

The move is the first of its kind among Long Island's county, town and city police agencies.

The company, PMAM Corp. of Irving, Texas, will receive 24 percent of the fine revenue it collects on the city's behalf. The revenue could total more than $100,000 annually, as city police respond to about 1,100 false alarms per year and fines start at $100 per incident, officials said.

The contract with PMAM will allow the city to step up collection of the fines and avoid the cost of hiring workers to make the collections, city officials said.

"It takes a tremendous amount of manpower," said Len Torres, the City Council president. "It was strictly a money thing."

The city's false alarm fines, which are charged to residents and business owners, increase based on the number of incidents. Residents and business owners who purchase an alarm permit pay lower fees.

The Nassau County Police Department uses its own employees to collect fines. Suffolk County and Glen Cove police do not charge false alarm fines.

None of the East End town police departments use a private company to collect fines; penalties that are not paid are typically added to tax bills, officials said.

Nassau County hiked its false alarm fees on Tuesday. For those without permits, the fine rises from $100 to $150 for residences, and there is a new $200 fine for commercial properties.

Long Beach approved the contract with PMAM by a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, with councilmen Michael Fagen and John C. McLaughlin dissenting. McLaughlin said city workers could handle the collections.

"We might be able to use one of the part-timers, and keep somebody working," McLaughlin said.

A handful of residents also spoke out against the contract on Tuesday. The move was tantamount to "giving outsiders our money," said Mindy Warshaw.

"Let the police handle this," Warshaw said.

With Mitchell Freedman

and Sid Cassese

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