Paradise Valley Town Council eyes future of alarm monitoring service

A view of Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert addressing the Paradise Valley Town Council on Nov. 3. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

A view of Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert addressing the Paradise Valley Town Council on Nov. 3. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The Town of Paradise Valley Town Council could decide at its next meeting whether or not to sustain or dissolve the police department’s alarm monitoring system.

Residents will have an opportunity to express their opinions on the potential policy change at the Dec. 1 meeting of the Town Council.

The town council revisited the future of the police department’s alarm monitoring system at a meeting held Thursday, Nov. 17. The discussion followed a Nov. 3 study session.

Elected officials are weighing the options on upgrading and improving the town’s alarm monitoring system, or ending the resident service altogether.

Police Chief Peter Wingert led the discussion on what direction is best for the town.

Paradise Valley homeowners have the option, for a monthly fee of $35-$50 depending on number of zones monitored, to connect directly into the Paradise Valley Police Department’s dispatch center for when emergencies occur.

If an alarm connected to the Paradise Valley alarm system is tripped, a call for service will ring directly into the department’s dispatch center, town officials say.

There are 420 resident subscribers, and the peak subscription was in 2008 at 610 contracts. The alarm generates approximately $195,000 in revenue a year, Chief Wingert said.

A recent seven-day outage occurred nearly a year ago — Dec. 31, 2015 to Jan. 8, 2016– which illustrates the necessity for repair to the antiquated system.

“We have to get the data right. We have to clean up our data, in any scenario,” Chief Wingert explained on Nov. 17.

“Because the data that we currently have, if we have a problem we can’t get anyone else to help us. Nobody else can throw us a life preserver because of the age of the data.”

If the town continues with the alarm system, a number of subscribers may need to update and potentially replace hardware in order to sustain the service.

“I use my mom as my vulnerable resident,” explained Chief Wingert during the meeting. “If she had an alarm system and if she were asked by somebody to move off of that alarm system, I think she would be probably frustrated by the technology aspect of it, and give up.”

During the Nov. 3 study session, four business model suggestions were presented to the town council.

“Business Model No. 1,” one of the two options the council examined, would require $308,000 of capital infusion from the General Fund over 10 years. In addition, it would require a 12.5 percent rate increase; and a subscriber increase.

Mayor Michael Collins expressed to the council how the topic of the town’s alarm system — positive and negative — has been of discussion many times in the past.

“I’ve always been relatively neutral on the topic,” said Mayor Collins. “I don’t see a $30,000 a year cost from the general fund being a decision factor for me to withdraw from the program.”

Mayor Collins says he is still encouraged the town could make progress on the alarm monitoring system and maintain the service.

“If I were to vote to cancel the program it would not be because of that $30,000 cost. It would have to be a larger decision.”

Vice Mayor David Sherf gave an alternate opinion,expressing the town should move away from the alarm system.

The alternate option the town council has discussed is a capital-protection exit strategy with a future shut-down date. The remaining fund balance, estimated to be around $400,000, would be reinvested based on council’s direction.

“When this town does things, we do it right,” he said. “If we do No. 1, it just seems like we would be trying to do something but it’s not something that we would say ‘we have the best service, this is a state of the art program,’ it’s kind of up in the air.”

“It seems like we’re just accommodating our residents and maybe not in the best possible way. If you’re in this business, you’re in the business and I don’t feel like we’ve ever had both feet in the business.”

The four options Chief Wingert presented Nov. 3:

  • No. 1: a capital infusion of $308,000 from the General Fund over 10 years with a goal increase of subscribers;
  • No. 2: a recruitment-driven sustainability option that would increase subscribers to nearly 1,000 over 10 years;
  • No. 3: Rate-based sustainability that would increase rates from an average $40 to $73.50 monthly;
  • No. 4: Capital-protection exit strategy with a future shutdown date, and the remaining fund balance estimated to be around $400,000, would be reinvested based on council’s direction.

The next meeting, Dec. 1, will begin 4 p.m. at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Dr.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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