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For the past two years, Chatham County officials and Chatham Emergency Services representatives have been meeting to discuss how best to provide fire protection services in unincorporated Chatham County. These conversations became necessary due to non-payment of the annual fire subscription fee by property owners, resulting in funding challenges for the fire department.
To understand what level of services residents wanted from their fire department, Chatham County Commissioners held Town Hall meetings and launched a community survey. The responses told us that most citizens were satisfied with the level of services being provided and thought the costs were reasonable. However, the fire department's revenue matter remained since almost 1/3 of property owners were not paying the annual subscription fee.
The Board of Commissioners heard you. In December 2021, the Board approved a contract with Chatham Emergency Services to provide the necessary fire protection. What does this mean for you? If you live in unincorporated Chatham County and were previously billed by Chatham Emergency Services for a fire subscription fee, you will no longer receive a bill from them and instead be billed a Fire Service Fee by Chatham County to cover the cost of the $13 million contract.
Chatham County Commissioners held Town Hall meetings and launched a community survey.
The Board approved a contract with Chatham Emergency Services to provide the necessary fire protection.
The fee will be based on the square footage of your improved property, which includes all structures that could catch fire and burn and a flat fee for land. The square footage for each property will be obtained from the Chatham County Board of Assessors.
The math is simple. Here is an example of how the fee will be calculated based on the most common building square footage category. There is a flat fee of $100 for all land, plus the calculated fee for structure(s) on the property. Therefore, if you have a 1500 square foot home with a single car garage, which is approximately 250 square feet and a 10 x 20 storage area or shed that is 200 square feet, your total square foot for the structure is 1950. Based on your 1950 square foot structure(s), the fee is $125, plus a $100 fee for land, your total fire service fee would be $225.
Fire Service Fee bills will not be mailed prior to October 2022. For more information, please check out the FAQ section. If you do not find the answer to your question, you can use the Contact Us Form.
The County has a service contract with Chatham Emergency Services (CES) to provide fire protection for many parts of the unincorporated area. As part of the contract, the County will bill and collect the annual subscription fire fee which will be used to reimburse CES for their costs.
No, Chatham County uses a third-party billing company to collect the payments that is based in Wisconsin. You may pay your
Fire Fee online at www.myfirebill.com or send a
check to the Wisconsin address listed on your bill.
Questions about your bill? Call 1-888-428-0161
A sample of what his bill can look like is below:
CES already served most of the unincorporated County for fire protection which is an essential public safety service. However, CES was not able to generate enough revenue to offset its costs.
No, this fee only applies to property owners who were previously billed by Chatham Emergency Services for a fire subscription fee.
The fee is based on the square footage of your improved property, which includes all structures that could catch fire and burn, plus a flat fee for land. It should be noted that this is a different calculation than the subscription fee that CES assessed in the past so the fees will not be the same. The CES calculation was based on property values. Some homeowners will see a decrease in their bill under the new calculation while others will see an increase.
No, CES is still a non-profit organization providing fire protection to unincorporated Chatham County.
All bills have been mailed by our billing provider, Life Quest.
The Fire Service Fee bill will be mailed to the same address that you receive your tax bill. Need to change the address of where your fire fee is mailed? Visit: https://www.chathamtax.org and click “E-file.”
Chatham County will send the fire fee invoice to the property owner on file with the Board of Assessors. Unfortunately, this information is not “real time” so the County may not have information on any change in ownership.
For properties in the fire district that are sold after June 30, 2022, the County suggests the following process:
The last day to file a Fire Fee Appeal was January 16, 2023.
If you believe there is an error on your property record related to square footage, please contact the Board of Assessors at https://boa.chathamcountyga.gov/
Chapter 21: Health, Safety, and Sanitation, Article XII – Fire Protection Service Fee
Visit: QPublic Property Search. Here you may search for your property by name, parcel number, or address.
The list of structures billed in addition to your home is located at: County Code Book Page 93
Chapter 21: Health, Safety, and Sanitation, Article XII – Fire Protection Service Fee.
§21-1213 List of Ancillary structures billed in addition to the main structures
By ordinance, Chatham County Fire Fee bills are sent to each property owner of record with the Board of Assessors for each unique PIN and using the same address used for mailing the annual property tax bill. The Chatham County Fire Fee ordinance places the responsibility on each property owner to ensure their invoice is paid. Chatham County does not group bill HOA/COAs, but we are working with them to identify properties within their jurisdiction and assist with the change in process.
No, payment of the fee is required by Chatham County Ordinance. In addition, most property insurers require you to pay a fire fee to ensure that your property is protected.
Yes, your bill is due 30 days after the billing date, however, no late fee will be assessed on bills paid by January 17, 2023.
Yes, you can pay installments as along as the bill is paid in full by January 17, 2023.
If you do not find the answer to your question, you can use the Contact Us Form.
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Use the link below to look up a fee by parcel (pin) or address
Please do not use this for emergency or time critical communications.