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Friday, December 8, 2023

Leesburg commissioners OK fire assessment fees with no increase

The Leesburg City Commission approved a resolution Monday night that keeps annual fire assessment fees for residents and businesses at the same rate that’s been charged since 2015.

The assessment is expected to bring in about than $1.22 million before any buydowns for properties such as those belonging to churches, a memo written by City Manager Al Minner says, adding that in fiscal year 2017-18, the city expects to collect about $1.15 million in fire fees.

Under the plan, which officially would begin Oct. 1, the rate for residential dwellings would be $58. Commercial businesses will be charged .06 cents per square foot. The industrial/warehouse rate is .01 cents per square foot, institutional is .09 cents per square foot and churches .08 cents per square foot.

The fire protection ordinance provides for certain exemptions, such as:
• Parcels belonging to low-income owners;
• Mobile home and recreational vehicle park properties; and
• Wholly exempt church property used primarily for religious purposes.

Those seeking an exemption under the first two categories must file an annual written application on a form provided by the city no later than May 1 of each year. Failure to file an application by the deadline shall be a complete waiver of the exemption for that fiscal year, Minner’s memo says.

Any new churches seeking an exemption for their sanctuaries must file a written application the first year it is sought, after which time it will continue unless there is a change in the use of the property, Minner wrote, adding that city administrators will apply eligibility for an exemption based on the information provided by the applicant.

Both the fire protection service non-ad valorem assessment and ad valorem taxes will be collected on the tax bill mailed each November. Failure to pay the assessments will cause a tax certificate to be issued against the property, which may result in a loss of title, the memo says.

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