N.Y. city poised to expand property tax breaks for firefighters, EMS providers
New legislation would extend a 10% property tax reduction to volunteer Rotterdam firefighters and providers with at least two years of service
By Chad Arnold
The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.
ROTTERDAM, N.Y. — The town is poised to become the latest municipality in the region to offer volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers a break on their property taxes.
The Rotterdam Town Board on Wednesday introduced legislation that would extend a 10% property tax reduction to volunteer firefighters and EMTs with at least two years of service. The town currently offers a 10% reduction on $3,000 of assessed value for those with five years of service.
Gov. Kathy Hochul last year approved legislation eliminating the cap and lowering the years of service required for individuals to take advantage of the discount from five years to two. The law requires that any municipality offering a discount to volunteer emergency personnel to conform to the new standards within three years.
Since the state legislation was adopted, municipalities throughout the region have been working to pass legislation to adopt the new standards, including the town of Clifton Park and Schenectady County, which is set to hold a public hearing on its own measure March 6.
If approved, the enhanced discount would only apply to the primary residence of volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. The individuals would be required to apply for the discount each year but would become permanent for members with 20 years of service, so long as they don’t relocate.
The tax break would also be extended to those whose spouse have died in the line of duty and remain unmarried, so long as their deceased served for at least five years.
The reduced rate will not reduce the town’s tax levy. Instead, the discounted rate would be spread out to those not receiving the exemption, similar to how other tax exemptions work, including those that apply to local veterans.
Rotterdam is home to eight volunteer fire districts.
A public hearing on the proposed law has been scheduled for 7 p.m. March 8 at the Town Hall, 1100 Sunrise Blvd.
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