County legislators talk tax exemptions for volunteer first responders

(Photo via the Cortlandville Fire Department).

Members of volunteer emergency medical services and fire departments in Cortland County could soon see savings to their property tax bill.

The measure, discussed at Thursday’s Cortland County Finance and Administration committee meeting, would provide a 10 percent county property tax relief off the assessed value of the volunteer’s property. This exemption applies to members of volunteer ambulance services, volunteer fire companies, and volunteer fire departments who have been registered for at least two years. An application and certification must be filed with the municipal property value assessor every year to qualify for the tax relief.

To be eligible, the volunteer would have to live in the municipality served by their fire department or ambulance service, according to state guidelines. The property also has to be the volunteer’s primary residence.

A volunteer of 20 years can qualify for a lifetime exemption, legislature Clerk Savannah Hempstead said.

Legislators agreed this measure could be seen as a good perk for volunteers.

“It’s getting harder and harder to get volunteers,” said Legislative Majority Leader George Wagner (R-LD-15). “We’re down to 38 in the Marathon Fire Department. We used to have more than 50.”

County Administrator Rob Corpora said the measure would be a great value for the county.

“I look at it as this is a very minor cost to the county, compared to if we had to hire people to do these jobs,” he said.

A formal resolution will be presented at the County Finance and Administration committee meeting in March.