Commercial businesses in West Baton Rouge Parish will have to fork over more money in the future when firefighters respond to security system false alarms if the parish fire chief has his way.

Parish Fire Chief Kenny Hunts told Port Allen city leaders this week current fines every time a business’ alarm system erroneously sounds off are way too cheap to encourage business owners to repair their faulty systems.

“We had to respond to one business seven times in one week because their alarm system is broke,” Hunts told the Port Allen City Council Wednesday. “We’re sending out more than $1 million worth of equipment every time we have to respond to those false alarms. And businesses don’t mind paying the current fines because they’re so cheap.”

Most municipalities in the parish currently charge local businesses $25 each for up to six false alarms. The fine goes up to $50 each for more than seven false alarms.

Hunts is asking all the municipalities to adopt ordinances increasing those fines to $50 each for the first six false alarms and $150 each for seven or more.

“Maybe we’ll get their attention with that,” he said.

Entergy joins business group challenging suspension of tax exemption

The Louisiana Chemical Association was the first to file a constitutional challenge to a concurrent resolution in the Louisiana House of Representatives that suspends for a year an exemption on 1 percent of the sales tax on business utilities. The measure translates into businesses forking over more for their utilities.

Now, Entergy is likewise claiming in the 19th Judicial District Court that House Concurrent Resolution 8 failed to receive the required two-thirds constitutional vote for passage when it was approved in the 2015 legislative session.

Entergy Louisiana LLC, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana LLC, Entergy New Orleans Inc. and Entergy Arkansas Inc. filed petitions Tuesday seeking refunds of a combined $778,000 in taxes paid under protest in August for utility transactions that occurred in July. The companies also are asking for the court to tack on interest.

New Orleans lawyer Robert Angelico, one of the attorneys representing the Entergy entities, also argues in the refund petitions that HCR 8’s language is vague and ambiguous and creates confusion because it does not define “business utilities.”

The suspension of the tax exemption went into effect July 1 and expires after the 2016 legislative session. It is intended as a revenue-generating measure for state government.

The exemption essentially allowed the tax-free sale of electric power or energy and any materials or energy sources used to fuel the generation of electric power for resale or used by an industrial manufacturing plant for self-consumption or cogeneration. HCR 8 rolled back 1 percent of the exemption.

The sale of electricity for residential use is constitutionally protected.

Competing states do not charge a sales tax on manufacturers for use of natural gas or utilities.

Advocate staff writers Terry L. Jones and Joe Gyan contributed to this report.