City of Savannah offers discount for Fire Fee - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

City of Savannah offers discount for Fire Fee

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The city of Savannah has solidified a way for residents to get a discount on the new fire fee. 

City Council passed the ordinance, explaining how you can qualify for up to a 20 percent discount on your annual payment. 

The base fee for an average family is $256. If a family takes advantage and applies for these discounts, they could cut $50 from their fee. Here's how a family can qualify for the discounts. 

There are five categories: homeowners, commercial and industrial, non-profits, educational, or served by another fire department. Under the homeowner group, households can do a few things. First, have up-to-date fire devices including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. It's a five percent discount for each of these items. Then, households can develop a fire evacuation plan and practice it in an annual drill, and fill out a home fire safety survey. Homeowners can apply for these discounts up to 20 percent maximum. 

"The discounts that apply to the fire fee are directly related to those property owners' actions to minimize risk," said Curtis Wallace, the Assistant Fire Chief for Savannah Fire. 

Charles Etta Austin has lived downtown for 15 years. She says the 20 percent discount is better than nothing. 

"Homeowners need all the breaks we can get," Austin said. 

Even so, some say this markdown might not be enough.

"Twenty percent? It could easily be 25 percent so the opportunity is there and I wish it could be more," said Bernard Steplight, who owns multiple properties in the downtown district. 

"There are a lot of folks who really cannot afford any extras attached to their cost of living. Nothing extra. If you don't have a second job to supplement your income, then you're in hot water," Austin agreed. 

The city of Savannah says they started working on the discount program as soon as the fire fee passed in December. This is not the low-income solution for the Savannah Fire Fee. The city says they are continuing to work on the hardship program for those who qualify. 

The category 'served by another fire department' only applies to Hunter Army Airfield and the Air National Guard. In other words, the city says no household or business can contract out with another fire department and avoid the fee. 

The city currently anticipates billing the 2018 fire fee on the second installment property tax bill in September 2018. Property owners can apply for the fire fee discount program between April 15, 2018, and June 1, 2018. Details about the program and the application can be found online at www.savannahga.gov/firefee.

For additional information regarding the city’s fire fee or the discount program, contact the Revenue Department by phone at 912.525.2810, via e-mail at firefee@savannahga.gov, or visit the City of Savannah’s Fire Fee web page at www.savannahga.gov/firefee.

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