Monroe County allowing towns to give volunteer firefighters and EMS tax breaks

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews are now eligible for a 10% tax break on the value of their homes.

County Executive Adam Bello signed the new local law Friday morning. The goal is to help retention and hiring efforts. Volunteer firefighters inside Bushnell’s Basin Fire Department say they hope towns across the county approve it. Eligible members can fill out the application and return it to your local assessor’s office.

Some firefighters said they volunteer because they love to help people, this would be just an added bonus. A few caveats though, only volunteers who have been members for two years can qualify, and the deadline for applications for this time around is March 1.

"It’s still OK, because now I have something to look forward to,” Dan Stafford said, a volunteer firefighter with Bushnell’s Basin.

Army veteran, Dan Stafford has been gearing up for Bushnell’s Basin Fire Department for less than a year, so he isn’t eligible for this new tax break initiative. He says once he qualifies it will be nice, but he’s really here to help people.

"Not getting paid for it is an interesting concept, I mean riding on a fire truck is exciting, for me and a lot of my colleagues I would say 99% of them it’s all about service and helping out their fellow neighbors,” Stafford said.

The new local law is a tax break for the 2022 tax year. It would reduce the assessed value of volunteers’ homes by 10%. They have to live in Monroe County. Bushnell Basin Fire Chief Rich Tantalo said it’s getting harder and harder to find people to volunteer.

"People think we’re paid, unfortunately, maybe a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on your home and where you live but every little bit helps and could be a better incentive for someone to take the time to volunteer,” Tantalo said.

Recruitment can be difficult. Stafford says volunteer ages across the board range, so while he waits out eligibility, he knows this could make a big difference for more tenured volunteers.

"So for a young couple, that’s maybe just purchased a house and they get a tax break on property taxes that’s a great incentive for them,” Stafford said.

Any enrolled member who accrues more than 20 years of active service can get that 10% break for a lifetime if they live in Monroe County. This was signed into the county, but towns have to vote and approve it. Penfield and Brighton have adopted it.

Click here to apply.