Immediate Release

 For Information Contact:

Wednesday, April 13, 2020

Brian Adey

Griffo Proposes County Property Tax Break
For Volunteer Firefighters, Ambulance Crews

Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo today announced that he is sending the Oneida County Board of Legislators a proposed local law to create a property tax exemption targeted for Oneida County ’s volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers.

“Volunteer firefighters and emergency crews are the first line of defense in our rural and suburban communities,” Griffo said. “They are the everyday heroes who are called upon at all hours of the day or night when their neighbors and friends face an emergency situation. Yet while the need for dedicated firefighters grows, our volunteer fire departments are facing increased difficulties in recruiting men and women to devote their time to these historic and vital parts of our communities. This exemption is a way of showing our appreciation for these hometown heroes who are so important across Oneida County .”

Griffo said the exemption would amount to 10 percent of a house’s assessed value up to $3,000, multiplied by the latest equalization rate for that community. He said that the exemption will reduce the county tax bill between $20 and $30 for an average firefighter’s home, although the figure will vary by communities because of equalization rates. The law will provide the exemption only for property that is the primary residence of a firefighter, and will target firefighters with five or more years of service. Firefighters and emergency workers with more than 20 years of service to their departments would be granted the exemption for life, even after they finish their active service. The exemption would require an annual application.

“The exemption is not a lot of money, but it is a very sincere token of gratitude we feel toward our volunteer firefighters and the appreciation we have for their services,” Griffo said, noting that this exemption could be approved by villages, towns, and school districts to multiply the benefit to the county’s roughly 2,400 volunteer firefighters who belong to 48 fire departments. “We hope that this token of our support and appreciation will help our volunteer fire departments as they seek to recruit and retain members to protect the people of Oneida County .”

Griffo said the exemption exists in other counties.

“Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito and Senator Raymond Meier have already supported creation of a real property tax credit for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. To extend that to Oneida County we need a home rule message from our County Board of Legislators. I call upon our county legislators to act as soon as possible so that we can have state legislation passed to cover Oneida County volunteers during this state legislative session.”

Griffo said that preliminary estimates project that the exemption is estimated to save the county’s volunteer firefighters about $59,000 annually.

“Volunteer Fire Departments and Ambulance Corps are the backbone of homeland security and emergency services for our rural and suburban communities,” Griffo said. “This exemption rewards volunteers who give thousands of hours every year to serve and protect their communities.”