Volunteer Firefighters, EMS Eligible for Property Tax Exemptions Sooner in Southampton Town

fire volunteers property tax exemption
Sag Harbor and Southampton firefighters on the scene of a fire in 2021.
Michael Heller

Volunteer firefighters and ambulance personnel, who are also homeowners, will have to wait less time to get the partial property tax exemption in Southampton Town.

In December, New York State repealed provisions of the Real Property Law and added an amendment that gives local governments the option to provide partial property tax exemption to volunteer firefighters and ambulance personnel.

At a Southampton Town Board meeting on April 25, the board reduced the minimum service requirement from five years to two years for volunteers who provide fire protection and emergency medical care. The board amended the town code as the requirement had been at least five years of service.

“These are challenging times and it is important to recognize the extraordinary work that is done by our neighbors who serve the greater community as first responders,” said Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, the lead sponsor of the legislation and liaison to the fire and ambulance districts. “Our fire and ambulance volunteers regularly answer the call to help the rest of us. This legislation helps our volunteers to serve others.  I would encourage everyone who can do so to volunteer.”

The state legislature’s amendment required local governments set the minimum years of service between two and five years of service. “Recognizing the value of the service and sacrifices these volunteers and their families make, the town board decided to reduce the minimum service requirement and give the maximum amount of 10%, which is applied to the assessed value of their primary residence,” a statement from the board said.

The exemption is only for residences that are the volunteer’s primary residence. “In the event that any portion of the property is not used exclusively for the applicant’s primary residence, but is used for other residential purposes, such portion will be subject to taxation and the remaining portion will be entitled to the exemption,” the town’s statement explains.

Fire department and ambulance corps volunteers also receive free beach stickers, tuition reimbursement for State University of New York schools and eligibility for participation in the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), a point-based retirement program for emergency service organizations.

East Hampton Town’s requirement is a minimum of five years, as well.

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