There are nearly 100,000 volunteer firefighters in New York State. According to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York, those volunteers provide service hours that save the citizens of the Empire State over $3.8 billion per year. It's difficult to quantify what those volunteers really saved those that they have served. Then there are the volunteer Ambulance & EMS workers, jobs so stressful their numbers are tumbling each year. In December, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill introduced by D-Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and state D-Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick that may be a way of keeping those volunteers.

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Back in November, the state announced a $200 per year tax credit for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Now, this new law focuses on property tax relief. According to SIlives.com, the new law exempts up to 10% of assessed value for a primary home for volunteer first responders "in localities that adopt the new law." That is the key phrase. This is an opt-in program for counties and municipalities throughout the state. If the local government doesn't opt-in, then there is no property tax break.

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“Volunteer first responders put their lives on the line to support their fellow New Yorkers, and we are forever indebted to them for their heroism,” Hochul said when she signed the bill in December. “I’m proud to sign this new law that will allow communities to show their gratitude to these heroes.”

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Gratitude is one thing but it is crucial that new volunteers are attracted to the pressure-filled job. D-Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski told silive.com. “It is also imperative that we work to ensure that our volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps are able to effectively retain and recruit members. This law will go a long way towards ensuring that.”

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