Tuesday, May 15, 2018

City 'fine-tuning' property classifications for controversial Fire Fee

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Partially in response to recent citizen confusion about the new measure, the City of Savannah says today it is "fine-tuning the fire fee database to ensure the fee is applied fairly across all property classifications prior to bills being sent out later this fall," a City spokesperson says.

Last week the City sent letters and postcards to all properties and included the estimated fire fee amount for each property, before any discounts are applied.

"The intent of this mailing was to give property owners an idea of what their fire fee will be, and to allow property owners the chance to alert the Revenue Department of any inaccuracies," the City reports.

The actual fire fee bill will not be mailed out until September, however, even though the deadline to apply for discounts is June 1.

As part of an ongoing process, the City is reclassifying some types of properties from Commercial to Single Family Residential, which will change the way the fee is calculated.

"By definition, a Single Family Residential property means developed property containing one residential structure with no more than two dwelling units in or attached thereto, situated upon a single lot of record. Residential properties with supplemental accessory structures, such as carriage houses, storage buildings or caretakers quarters, are also classified as Single Family Residential," the City says.

Condos are now also being classified as Single Family Residential. So are properties that have a commercial use within the residence, as long as the primary function of the property is residential and both uses contain a single Property Identification Number (PIN).

“It can be difficult, especially for properties with multiple structures on one parcel, to determine which properties do and do not meet this definition simply by relying on data presented in the Chatham County Board of Assessors Property Card,” said Revenue Director Ashley Simpson.

The City encourages residents to scrutinize their fire fee estimates, and notify the City of any issues such as property type or billable square footage through an online Request for Redetermination Form located at www.savannahga.gov/FireFee. Forms can be submitted online or mailed to the Revenue Department.

"This process is particularly important in the downtown area, with mixed-use zoning districts that often contain unique parcel combinations or multiple property uses on each parcel," the spokesperson says.

The City uses Chatham County Board of Assessors records as the basis for the fire fee database.

“The City wants to make the fire fee as equitable as possible,” Simpson said. “We want the fire fee to be reflective of the amount of resources needed to fight a fire on each property.”

If anyone has questions about the fire fee they can contact the City at (912) 525-2810 or by e-mail at firefee@savannahga.gov.
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