A proposed amendment to the East Hampton Town code would allow volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers with two years of qualifying service to apply for a partial tax exemption. The proposal was discussed at the town board’s public hearing last Thursday. There were no comments.
The New York State Legislature amended the state real property law to permit such volunteers with two years of qualifying service, rather than the existing five-year stipulation, to apply for the exemption.
The town board, according to the hearing notice, believes that the town would benefit from amending its code to reflect the state law as it would increase the number of eligible volunteers and incentivize residents to join and remain with local fire departments and ambulance companies, which face persistent shortages of volunteers, a consequence of the cost of real estate and general cost of living on the South Fork.
Should the proposal be adopted, a volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker would be eligible for a 10-percent property tax exemption on the assessed value of their primary residence. Applicants for the exemption must be residents of the town, including any incorporated village within it.
Volunteers who accrue more than 20 years of active service would be granted the exemption for the remainder of their lives, as long as their primary residence remains within the town.
The exemption would not be granted to the spouse of a volunteer who died in the line of duty unless that spouse has not remarried, and the volunteer must have been receiving the exemption at the time of death.