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.