Town Board calls special meeting to approve tax exemption for first responders

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Live in Riverhead but serve a fire department outside of town, if you hurry now you could be eligible for a tax exemption.

Fire department or ambulance corps volunteers who live in Riverhead Town but have served in a Suffolk County department that is outside the town will soon be able to quality for a 10 percent town tax exemption, if they’ve been in that department for more than 20 years.

But they better hurry.

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to approve that measure at a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. In order to qualify, volunteers must file for the exemption by the end of the business day on March 1, which is this Thursday.  Town Hall closes at 4:30 p.m. that day.

Town Assessor Mason Haas said prior to this, the exemption was available to these volunteers only from their county tax, and the county tax in Riverhead isn’t that big to begin with. Volunteers who live in Riverhead and serve in a department in town are already eligible for the exemption. The state created the exemption several years ago and gives town, counties and school districts the option of enacting it.

“There are some people who live in the town but work outside the town and have joined a fire department or ambulance where they work,” Mr. Haas said. “Those people had not been eligible for the tax exemption that other volunteers receive.”

He said the move comes at the suggestion of Councilman John Dunleavy.

Mr. Haas said there are 15 volunteers who qualify for the exemption, and the total amount of the exemption, for all 15 combined, is $2,978.

The Town Board held a public hearing on the proposal on Feb. 7.

[email protected]

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.