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Schenectady County Legislature to Consider Property Tax Exemption for Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers

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The Schenectady County Legislature will consider a resolution to schedule a public hearing on March 6th on proposed Local Law No. A-2023 at their February 14th meeting at Yates Elementary School. The local law would expand the county’s property tax exemption to the maximum allowed for members of volunteer fire departments and volunteer ambulance services with a minimum of two years of service.

“Volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers are seeing an increase in call volume, and the overall risk to their personal health, including the physical and emotional toll that serving takes,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature and co-sponsor of proposed Local Law No. A-2023 “Expanding our property tax exemption is another way we can give back to our volunteers who sacrifice their time, health, and safety to provide a priceless service to our community.”

Currently in Schenectady County, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers with at least five years of service can apply for a 10% property tax exemption for up to $3,000 in assessed home value or they can apply for a $200 tax credit through New York State.[1] A recently authorized NYS law allows local municipalities, including counties, to expand the property tax exemption up to a maximum of 10% of the total assessed value of an eligible volunteer’s primary residence.

“Departments are having a harder time adequately staffing volunteers to provide the vital services our growing communities depend on,” said Schenectady County Legislator Tom Constantine, Chair of the Public Safety & Firefighting Committee and co-sponsor of proposed Local Law No. A-2023. “Expanding this property tax exemption to the maximum allowable not only shows our appreciation for our volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, it also gives our volunteer departments more tools to recruit and retain members.”

Pursuant to section 466-a of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, to be eligible for the property tax exemption, volunteers must live in the city, town or village that is served by the fire company, fire department or incorporated ambulance service they serve with.

If passed, eligible volunteers can file an application for the county property tax exemption with their local assessor. Applications must be received by March 1, 2024 to be eligible for the expanded property tax exemption starting in January 2025.

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