(WIVT/WBGH) – Volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel in Broome County may be eligible for a property tax exemption through newly proposed legislation.

The volunteer firefighter tax exemption bill passed through the State Senate and Assembly unanimously last June.

It gives counties, local municipalities, school districts and other districts that levy property taxes the ability to offer a tax break for first responders.

Under the proposal, volunteer firefighters and EMS workers that have served with their department for at least two years, will be eligible for an exemption of up to 10% of their assessed property value.

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says that the focal point of the legislation is to incentivize more people to join volunteer departments.

Assemblyman Joe Angelino says that volunteer ambulances are almost non-existent anymore, and if nothing changes, fire departments could suffer the same fate.

Assemblyman Joe Angelino says, “All of the taxing entities in New York State need to look at this. Their boards need to consider this, or the alternative, is they may be paying for fire protection very soon. And I’m looking at you school districts, lighting districts, sewer districts, not just villages, towns and cities.”

Angelino says that if the state, or the county were to pay for all of the fire and EMS services provided by our volunteers, it would cost millions of dollars.

Angelino says that three times in the past month, he has had to drive a ladder truck for the Norwich Fire Department simply due to the lack of personnel.

The Broome County legislature will consider the proposal as part of its February agenda.