[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Council of the Village of Cassopolis 8-11-2009 by Ord. No. 246. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building regulations — See Ch. 122.
In order to protect the Village from extraordinary expenses resulting from the utilization of Village resources in response to certain public safety or fire emergency incidents, this chapter authorizes the imposition of charges to recover actual costs incurred by the Village in responding to such incidents.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- ALARM SYSTEM
- Any device or assembly of equipment and devices arranged to signal the presence of a condition requiring urgent attention and to which police officers, fire fighters or emergency medical personnel are expected to respond. An "alarm system" may include, but is not limited to, systems commonly known as a "holdup alarm system," "burglar alarm system," "intrusion alarm system," "temperature fire alarm system," "manual fire alarm system," "fire alarm system," or an "automatic sprinkler water-flow alarm system." An alarm system on a motor vehicle shall not be considered an alarm system for the purposes of this chapter, unless an alarm system on a motor vehicle shall be connected with an alarm system at a premises. Building/premises alarm systems designed solely to alert occupants of the premises or a private monitoring post, or to activate a fire-suppression system or similar system, and which lack an audible signal, flashing light, or telephone or other communications system designed to alert persons outside of the premises, are likewise excluded, unless an alarm generated by such a system is communicated to the Police Department, Fire Department or emergency medical personnel and results in a response.
- ALARM USER
- A person or other entity on whose premises an alarm system is maintained within the Village. Information identifying the alarm user shall be provided to the Village of Cassopolis through the registration process under this chapter. In the event of an unregistered system, or one with outdated registration information, the property owner of record shall be considered to be the alarm user.
- ASSESSABLE COSTS
- Those costs for services incurred by the Village in connection with a response to a public safety or fire emergency incident, including but not limited to the actual labor and material costs of the Village (including, without limitation, employee wages, fringe benefits, administrative overhead, costs of equipment, costs of equipment operation, costs of materials, costs of transportation, costs of material disposal and costs of contracted labor) whether or not the services are provided by the Village or by a third party on behalf of the Village; service charges and interest; attorney's fees, litigation costs and any costs, charges, fines or penalties to the Village imposed by any court or state or federal governmental entities.
- BOMB THREATS
- The verbal or written threat of a bomb or other explosive device, which would violate a federal, state or local law.
- CHARGEABLE ALARM
- A false alarm which is a nonchargeable alarm.
- EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE
- Emergency medical, public safety, police, fire and civil defense services.
- EXCESSIVE REQUESTS FOR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE
- Any request for emergency assistance made to a particular location or premises if such location or premises has requested emergency assistance, resulting in false alarms, more than three times in the preceding 30 days.
- FALSE ALARM
- Any automated or manual device designed to request or summon emergency assistance made to a particular location or premises if such location or premises has requested emergency assistance more than three times in the preceding 30 days.
- HAZARDOUS MATERIAL INCIDENT OR EMERGENCY
- Any occurrence, incident, activity, accident or emergency where a release of hazardous materials occurs or is reasonably imminent and where the fire chief or his designee has so declared such activity, accident or emergency a hazardous incident or emergency.
- HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
- Those elements, substances, waste or by-products, including but not limited to combustible liquid, flammable gas, explosive, flammables, poison, organic peroxides, oxidizers, pyrophorics, unstable reactive matter, water reactive matter, petroleum products, antifreeze, polychlorinated biphenyls and asbestos, which are or are potentially harmful to the environment or human or animal life, or which pose an unreasonable or imminent risk to life, health or safety of persons or property, or to the ecological balance of the environment as determined by the fire chief or the incident commander of the Village in charge at the scene.
- ILLEGAL FIRE
- A fire set or determined to have been set in violation of a federal, state or local law and shall include an arson fire. The term "illegal fire" does not include an unintentional fire or fire cause by an act of God, which for illustration and not limitation would include such occurrences as lightning storms.
- INITIATING DEVICE
- A device, whether manually operated or automatic, which signals the existence of a condition which activates an alarm system, and includes manual pull stations or "panic buttons," temperature sensors, smoke detectors, motion sensors, door or window status sensors, water-flow sensors, and similar devices.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any self-propelled or towed vehicle designed or used on the public streets, roads and highways to transport passengers or property which is required to be registered for use upon such public streets, roads and highways and for the purposes hereof all trailers or appurtenances attached to any motor vehicle.
- NONCHARGEABLE ALARM
- A false alarm which is: the result of a storm or interruption of telephone, electrical or other utility service, which interruption is not the fault of the building owner; or the result of system testing or maintenance, having notified the Police/Fire Dispatch Center at least one hour before the testing or maintenance begins and of the completion of testing or maintenance within one hour of said completion; or other extenuating circumstances, in the discretion of the Village. Correction of the procedural or mechanical defect which caused the false alarm may be considered a mitigating factor allowing a waiver, in the sole judgment of the Village.
- Any actual or threatened spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, leaching, dumping or disposing into the environment, including but not limited to the air, soil, groundwater and surface water.
- An action requiring a rescuer to extricate a person or animal from a position of risk to a position of safety. Examples of rescues could include but are not limited to: auto extrication, water rescue, confined space, trench rescue or high angle rescue.
- RESPONSIBLE PARTY
- Any individual, firm, corporation, association, partnership, commercial entity, joint venture, government entity or any other legal entity responsible for a public safety or fire emergency incident or any owner, tenant, occupant or party in control of real or personal property from which, onto which or related to which there is a public safety or fire emergency incident and their heirs, estates, successors and assigns.
- STRUCTURE DEMOLITION
- The tearing down of a structure damaged by fire or explosion, which must in the opinion of the fire chief and/or the building inspector and/or their designee be promptly demolished following the fire or explosion to protect public safety.
- THREATS OF HARM TO ONESELF OR OTHERS
- The verbal or written threat of physical harm to oneself or another property, which if carried out would be a violation of federal, state or local law.
Any chargeable alarm in excess of three in any calendar year from the same alarm system is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. However, an alarm system with at least 40 initiating devices shall be permitted one additional chargeable alarm per calendar year for every 40 initiating devices in the system before any excess alarms are declared a public nuisance.
All alarm users shall register each alarm system with the Village within 10 days of installation, or, for existing alarms, no later than December 31, 2009.
Separate registrations are required for each alarm system. The registration shall be on a form provided by the Village, requiring such relevant information as might be deemed necessary, but including the name and telephone number(s) of at least two persons or other points of contact with the knowledge and means to activate and/or disable the system. In the event a point of contact should be a station which is continuously staffed/monitored, no second point of contact is necessary. In the event that the property owner of record should not be considered the alarm user, an affidavit must be filed with the Village indicating a lessor will be responsible, indicating the duration of the lease, and accompanied by a copy of the lease.
The Village may recover all assessable costs in connection with a public safety or fire emergency incident from any or all responsible parties jointly or severally.
The Village Manager shall appoint a review committee of three persons, with approval of the Village Council, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Manager. The committee shall determine the total assessable costs and shall in consultation with other Village personnel involved in responding to a public safety or fire emergency incident determine whether to assess any, all or part of such costs against any of the responsible parties. In making such determination, the following shall be considered:
The total assessable costs;
The risk the public safety or fire emergency incident imposed on the Village, its residents and their property;
Whether there was any injury or damage to persons or property;
Whether the public safety or fire emergency incident required evacuation;
Whether Village equipment was used or damaged and was caused to be removed from service;
The extent the public safety or fire emergency incident required an unusual or extraordinary use of Village personnel and equipment; and
Whether there was any damage to the environment.
After consideration of the factors in Subsection B of this section, the Village Manager may allocate assessable costs among and between responsible parties, including allocating all or some of such costs jointly and severally against more than one responsible party regardless of whether a responsible party has other legal liability therefor or is legally at fault.
If the Village Manager or his designee determines not to assess all or a part of assessable costs against a responsible party, such determination shall not in any way limit or extinguish the liability of the responsible party to other parties.
After determining to assess assessable costs against a responsible party, the Village Treasurer or his/her designee shall mail an itemized invoice to the responsible party at their last known address. Such invoice shall be due and payable within 30 days of the date of mailing. If a responsible party shall appeal assessable costs pursuant to provisions of this chapter, if upheld, in whole or in part, shall be due and payable 30 days from the date of the appeal and any late payment fees shall apply thereafter.
Any responsible party who receives an invoice for assessable costs shall have an opportunity to meet with the committee to request a modification of assessment costs. The responsible party shall request in writing such meeting within seven calendar days of the date of the invoice assessing the assessable costs. If after meeting with the committee the responsible party is still not satisfied, he may request an opportunity to appear before the Village Council to further request a modification of assessable costs. Such appearance shall be on the next regular meeting night. A responsible party who desires to appear before the Village Council must first meet with the Village Manager or his designee as provided above and shall file a written request to appear before the Village Council with the Village Clerk within seven days of the date of the meeting with the committee. Upon receipt of such request, the Village Clerk will place the responsible party on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled Village Council meeting, which meeting is at least 14 calendar days after the date on which the responsible party files the request to appear. Any filed request to appear shall specifically identify and explain all reasons why the responsible party believes the assessed costs should be modified. Any reason, basis or argument for modification of assessable costs not set forth in the request to appear shall be deemed waived by the responsible party. Failure to timely file a written request to appear shall constitute a waiver of the responsible party's right to appear before the Village Council; and shall further constitute the responsible party's agreement to pay the assessable costs invoiced. After a responsible party has been given an opportunity to appear before it, the Village Council shall promptly determine whether to confirm, modify or void the payment of assessable costs invoiced. Such action shall be by roll call vote.
Assessable costs assessed against a responsible party not paid when due, including late payment fees, shall constitute a lien upon the real property of the responsible party in the Village, from which, upon which or related to which the public safety or fire emergency incident occurred. Such lien shall be of the same character and effect as the lien created by the Village Charter for Village real property taxes and shall include accrued interest and penalties. The Village Treasurer shall, prior to May 1 of each year, certify to the Village Council the fact that such assessable costs are delinquent and unpaid. The Village Treasurer shall then enter the delinquent amount on the next general ad valorem tax roll as a charge against the affected property, and the lien thereon shall be enforced in the same manner as provided and allowed by law for delinquent and unpaid personal property taxes.
In addition to the remedy set forth in § 100-8, the Village shall be entitled to pursue any other remedy or may institute any appropriate action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction as permitted by law to collect assessable costs from a responsible party.
The recovery of assessable costs pursuant to this chapter does not limit the liability of a responsible party under applicable local, state or federal law.