Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, R-Mahopac, is advocating for the county to adopt legislation that would cement a property tax deduction program for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers.
In late December, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed into law A10155A, which was co-sponsored by then-Assemblymen Byrne, and Michael Lawler, R-Suffern, who is now a congressman. The legislation standardizes and simplifies the existing tax breaks, allowing all counties across New York to opt in to the program.
“This is government at its best – supporting and giving back to those who do the selfless work of protecting their communities and neighbors,” said Byrne. “I’m proud to have helped work on this legislation while I was an assemblyman, and I’m even prouder to be able to bring it home to the brave volunteers in Putnam County as their county executive.”
The new law allows for local governments to offer up to a 10 percent exemption of assessed value to eligible volunteers, as well as a number of other options to opt in to, with the goal of assisting in recruitment and retention of volunteer fire and ambulance services.
“This isn’t traditionally thought of as a public safety issue, but it is,” said Legislature Chairman Paul Jonke, R-Brewster. “Providing this tax deduction is just another incentive in retaining a strong volunteer fire and ambulance corps. We’re committed to ensuring our volunteer first responders can receive whatever compensation we can give them.”
“Ensuring this tax exemption for volunteer ambulance workers and firefighters becomes law in Putnam County is one of our top priorities this year,” added Legislator Toni Addonizio, R-Kent, chairwoman of the Rules Committee. “These individuals are generous with both their time and livelihoods, and I encourage my colleagues in the Legislature to support this measure.”
This new law would replace previously enacted legislation by former Assemblyman Will Stephens Jr., in 2002, that provided a similar tax break. While the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance allowed the county to offer the exemption, the old legislation was rendered obsolete due to the increase in census population of Putnam County.