Niskayuna exploring property tax exemption for volunteer firefighters

Niskayuna fire truck close up

NISKAYUNA — The town of Niskayuna is looking to give back to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers with the Town Board exploring a real property tax exemption for those volunteers.

On March 14, the Schenectady County Legislature passed a local law expanding the property tax exemption for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers with a minimum of two years of service up to a maximum of 10% of the total assessed value of an eligible volunteer’s primary residence. Previously, volunteers in the county with five years of service could apply for a 10% property tax exemption for up to $3,000 in assessed home value or a $200 tax credit through the state.

After state law allowed municipalities to expand the exemption, the county passed its local law, which Niskayuna is now planning to mirror with its own bill.

Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said, after the bill passed the legislature, she brought the issue to the board for consideration.

“It was brought forward at the county level and then I met with different fire districts and I spoke with their representatives and I have a great understanding of the hours they spend volunteering their services to the town,” she said after last Thursday’s Town Board agenda meeting. “We felt that was a meaningful way to give back to them and value their work.”

The resolution for the board to set a public hearing on the matter at a future day will be on the agenda at its next meeting on Monday.

As a volunteer firefighter, Niskayuna Town Board Member Jason Moskowitz said he would be recusing himself from voting on the issue, but strongly backed the program’s concept.

“I’ve been a volunteer fireman for 15 years in this town and volunteer firefighters respond to calls 24/7,” he said, following last Thursday’s meeting. “It’s time away from their families and holidays and their kids’ events. I think any recognition that the town can give them is very much appreciated.”

The tax exemption would apply to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who serve in any of the town’s three fire districts and reside in the town.

Puccioni said that adopting the proposed local law would give relief to volunteer firefighters and have a small fiscal impact on their fellow property owners in the town.

“Our Town Assessor Eric Amberger estimates that will have an impact per parcel of about 28 cents,” she said during last Thursday’s meeting. “I’m in full support of this. We have volunteer firefighters here who donate hours of their time in our community. They’re on call sometimes 12-24 hours per day and their average calls range from 30 minutes to an hour and they take an average of 10 calls per week. Our firefighters and our volunteer firefighters have had to respond to those calls and we’ve had major fires in town.”

Categories: -News-, News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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