Montgomery passes volunteer firefighter tax exemption

By Jared Castañeda
Posted 2/27/24

The Montgomery Town Board made great headway on discussing and motioning new local laws during its February 21 meeting, including the community garden’s new rules and a local law that provides …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Montgomery passes volunteer firefighter tax exemption


The Montgomery Town Board made great headway on discussing and motioning new local laws during its February 21 meeting, including the community garden’s new rules and a local law that provides a property tax exemption for volunteer first responders.

The board opened the meeting by passing a local law that would provide volunteer firefighters and ambulance members with a 10% exemption to their residential properties. To be eligible, volunteers must live in the town, serve for at least two years, and be approved by their respective chiefs.

“The exemption would apply only to voluntary first responders, not for anyone who’s paid service,” said William Frank, the town attorney. “It would have to be a resident, and the property that would receive the exemption would be their primary residence.”

“Those who qualify would need to have two consecutive years of minimum service in their respective department,” he continued. “They would be certified by either the chief of the department, chief of the district governors, or in the case of the ambulance, that would be the ambulance company president as certified by the board.”

Resident Don Berger and Fire Commissioner Bob Reynolds Sr. agreed with this motion and thanked the board for supporting its first responders.

“I think this thing should be passed immediately, and I can only wish that they can get better percentages than that,” Berger said. “They deserve it, they’ve been doing it for years.”

“I want to thank you all. I appreciate the support and backing that you are giving our volunteers in the first responders of our area. Thank you so much,” Reynolds said.

Next up, the board set a public hearing on March 20 at 7 p.m. to pass amendments to local laws 5 and 8 of 2022, dealing with affordable housing for workers, seniors, and veterans. Frank explained that the board needs to make adjustments that meet the standards of the town’s comprehensive plan, including specifying the requirements for future housing developments.

“We need to make a couple of tweaks to that law to make sure it includes the ability, based on the updated master comprehensive plan, to include workforce and senior housing,” Frank said regarding local law 5. “And also to add some language that says a project does not have to meet each and every one of the criteria for the project.”

Later on, the board passed the new rules for the Montgomery Community Garden, as discussed during the town’s February 7 meeting. Town Supervisor Steve Brescia stated that he and the board implemented residents’ feedback into the rules’ latest rendition and will appoint members for the garden’s committee.

“We incorporated some of the suggestions from the garden committee from the last meeting,” Brescia said. “They suggested that the CAC (Conservation Advisory Council) appoint those members, and I think the town board should appoint those members.”

“We need to have the rules in place for one year and see how things go,” he continued. “We can always make amendments throughout the year if we have to.”

Near the end of the meeting, Patricia Henighan, chairperson of the Montgomery CAC, asked if the board decided to accept the Drinking Water Source Protection Program that she and Ilene Castaldo brought up on February 7. Brescia asserted that he and the board need some more time to review the offer and determine if the program would be a good fit for the town before they make a decision.

“The CAC would like to know if the town has discussed the drinking water source protection program and come to any decisions regarding it because we have an invitation to join the program and we need to reply one way or another,” Henighan said. “I did request that they give us an extension because the meeting was tonight and the deadline was the 23rd. So they have extended it until March 8.”

“We want to talk about it a little bit more, there are some good facets of that,” Brescia said. “We just want to know about certain things. The DEC and DOH standards are very strict as it is today, so we want to see what that commits us to as a town and how much we can encroach on private properties to protect our wellheads.”