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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Leesburg ups residential fire assessment fees by 50 percent amid COVID-19 crisis

The Leesburg Commission approved a resolution Monday night that increases residential fire assessment fees by 50 percent.

Residents will now pay $87 annually, which is a $29 increase from last year’s fee of $58. Revenue losses connected to COVID-19 are partially to blame for the increase, though it was expected to largely be offset for residents through a property tax rollback and lower utility rates.

Commercial and industrial rates have decreased in the new fee schedule. The commercial rate is 5 cents per square foot, 2 cents per square foot for industrial/warehouse, 15 cents per square foot for institutional and 4 cents for square foot for churches.

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, a memo from Finance Director James Williams states.

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.

The fire fees are expected to generate a little more than $1.5 million after buydowns for properties such as those belonging to churches, Williams’ memo says.

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