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False Alarm

We recently received a notice from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City saying that we have an alarm system that is not currently registered. We registered our system years ago and renewed its registration several times by sending in a check.

We had not received a billing notice in at least a year, so maybe that lack of payment is what kicked out the letter. To receive a letter that misstates the fact and adds that “maintaining an unregistered alarm system is a violation… which could result in a $250 citation for residential users” feels heavy-handed to those who dutifully open mail and pay their bills promptly.

Perhaps an earlier letter never arrived in our mailbox because of our unusual house number. Perhaps the annual registration letter was not sent again after the last time we paid. Perhaps the letter now stating that our system is not registered was sent by mistake instead of a letter saying it was time to renew the registration.

The fact that the enclosed form showed our account number and the person to contact in case our alarm system goes off is proof enough that our system had been previously registered.

When I wrote the $20 check on Sunday for the renewal of this registration, I thought of the homeowners in Baltimore City who might find that fee an additional burden on top of already too-high property taxes. We in Roland Park can afford the fee. Homeowners in other parts of the city, particularly in high crime areas, might not find it so easy to write another check.

The city is strapped for money. That is true. Perhaps some of the money spent on things like the Grand Prix in the future can be used to benefit taxpaying residents.


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