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Town of Otsego Considers Real Estate
Tax Exemption for Volunteers


At its monthly meeting on February 8, the Town Council of the Town of Otsego considered what to do with a newly enacted state law that permits each local taxing authority to pass a law granting a 10 percent real estate tax exemption for active volunteer firemen and ambulance workers.

Fire Chief Chris Voulo of the Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company spoke out in favor of having the town pass the enabling law to assist in the ability of the Fire Company to attract volunteers.

However, the apparent windfall was not without a number of problems. Because the state did not create the right until early this year, Otsego’s enabling legislation had to be written, adopted, and implemented in time for the firefighters and ambulance workers to file for the exemption before the property assessment date of March 1, 2023.

Will Green, counsel for the town, said the schedule would be tight but agreed to expedite drafting the local law, so that the mandatory public hearing on the law could be held on February 22 and still give the volunteer time to file for the exemption.

The second problem, inclement weather, caused a cancellation and rescheduling of the public hearing to March 8. The disappointment created by the delay was tempered, though, by the realization that the “benefit” given by the state was offset by a requirement in the law that volunteers must renounce a $200.00 tax credit to which they would otherwise be entitled. In other words, the volunteers could not take both exemptions.

Simple arithmetic exposed the undesirability of accepting the real estate tax benefit. Assuming a $200,000.00 assessment, and applying the Otsego town tax rate of .4527 percent, would result in a tax savings of $90.00. That savings could increase if the school district and the county also passed similar enabling legislation, but it does not appear to be the panacea for recruiting that Chief Voulo had hoped.

According to Ben Bauer, Otsego town supervisor, “We will consider the enabling law at the March 8 hearing. If we pass it, it will only represent an option for which the individual volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker can apply if it results in a savings.”


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