Monday, April 30, 2007

TOWN BD TO DECIDE ON TUESDAY EVENING IF VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE CORP MEMBERS WILL RECEIVE TAX BREAKS, ALONG WITH FIREFIGHTERS

The Greenburgh Town Board will decide on Tuesday, May 1st if volunteer ambulance corp members-along with firefighters-will be eligible for tax breaks, authorized by the NY State Legislature. The special meeting will take place at 7:15 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall. I support providing the volunteer ambulance corp members with the same tax breaks as volunteer firefighters. A public hearing will be scheduled for the 4th Wednesday of May at 7:15 PM.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound like a bad idea. But what, specifically, are the tax breaks available? What is the estimated loss of revenue to the Town?

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of every election year when Feiner tries to buy every special interest year. The average homeowner counts for nothing in this Town.

Feiner proposal is bad policy said...

This is another very bad and ill-considered Feiner proposal that is extremely unfair to literally thousands of taxpayers in Greenburgh. It is also contrary to what the state legislature had in mind.

The state legislature mandated that the property tax exemption be available only for those districts which employ five or fewer full-time firefighters and/or ambulance corp members.

The reason for this express limitation is that the legislature recognized that those who live in fire or ambulance districts that employ five or more full-time firefighters and/or ambulance corp members generally pay higher taxes as it is - and the legislature recognized that they should not therefore be burdened further with having to subsidize tax relief being doled out to those districts which do not employ five or more full-time firefighers and/or ambulance corp members.

Therefore, for those communities in New York, like Greenburgh, for which the property tax exemption won't work across the board, New York State last year adopted a $200 personal income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency personnel.

The only catch is that if the volunteers take the personal income tax exemption, they can't also take the property tax exemption should it be offered.

There are at least two fire districts in Greenburgh -- Greenville and Fairview -- which employ five or more full-time firefighters. There are tens of thousands of Greenburgh residents served by these two fire districts alone.

The town board should reject Feiner's proposal because it not only discriminates against the tens of thousands of area residents who live in the Greenville and Fairview fire districts, but if forces them to pay higher property taxes to subsidize the property tax relief being given elsewhere in town.

This is very bad policy and, in light of the state's having created the personal income tax exemption for these volunteers, it is completely unnecessary.

Paul Feiner said...

The NY State Legislature authorized these exemptions to be granted. The Governor of the State of NY signed the legislation. This is not a Paul Feiner proposal. It's a proposal that is being embraced by localities throughout the state of NY.
This should be a no brainer. The all volunteer depts (which provide mutual assistance to other depts that need help) save taxpayers millions of dollars. Municipalities all over NY State are facing problems keeping our volunteers. Senator Schumer last year held a press conference with me and Legislator Tom Abinanti in Elmsford proposing federal initiatives that could help localities attract and keep their volunteers working for them. Let's not be penny wise, pound foolish. If we lose our volunteer depts, your taxes will go up significantly.

feiner still doesn't get it said...

Feiner doesn't seem to understand that the exemption doesn't work for every municipality in New York.

Thus, his proposing the exemption for Greenburgh, which the state recognized would impose an unfair and discriminatory tax burden on one segment of a town in order to benefit another, has all the hallmarks of a "Paul Feiner proposal."

Feiner doesn't seem to understand that the state knew it had a problem in towns like Greenburgh, which has both all-volunteer fire districts and fire district that employ full-time professionals.

But the state also recognized that retaining volunteers is important.

That's why, in order to encourage volunteers without creating an unfair discriminatory tax impact in towns like Greenburgh, the state legislature last year adopted a $200 personal income tax credit across the board for all volunteer firefighters and emergency workers.

So, why would any elected leader in his right mind continue to support a tax benefit that pits one segment of the town against another -- when the state has come in and provided a substitute that's fair to everyone?

Backing off would seem to be a "no brainer." But not for Feiner.

In his attempt to go down as Greenburgh's most divisive town supervisor, Feiner arrogantly insists that his proposal is the only one here that's the "no brainer."

Legislators in Albany, however, wisely thought otherwise.

Anonymous said...

When a volunteer fire company cannot respond to an alarm in their home coverage area because an insufficient number of volunteers are available, what happens? Please do not respond with something generic like, "mutual aid companies respond" because that's obvious.

Is the mutual aid first responder always another volunteer company?

If not, are paid companies from other districts responding and, if they have a volunteer company, does the volunteer company respond to their local firehouse because the paid company is elsewhere?

If a paid company responds on a mutual aid call to an all volunteer district, are the taxpayers of the fully paid (or mixed) district reimbursed for the response?

If so, on what basis is the reimbursement determined? Per incident, annual contract, by mutual agreement?

Before handing out benefits it would be good public policy to determine not only the cost of the benefit being offered, but also who might be paying that cost.

No one who has ever dealt with our volunteer companies has ever doubted their value as concerned community members who would like the opportunity to offer something special to the community. The question is whether, at the beginning of the 21st century, in a no longer bucolic community, there are enough committed people to make volunteer public safety a viable alternative. We ain't Mayberry anymore - can the second largest municipality in Westchester responsibly rely on volunteers?

Anonymous said...

Hey, come on. Of course it's a "no-brainer" but Feiner is a "no-brainer."

Anonymous said...

1)Feiner did not have anything to do with this proposal. a VAC(volunteer ambulance corps) got it on the agenda.

2)There are thousands of government tax breaks. You have to meet certain requirements to receive them. If I don't qualify does that make it discrimination?
What about veteran tax breaks?

3)The VACs are in the villages. Most members live in their respected village. Most breaks will be <$100. The person whose name is on the deed must be the volunteer, not a family member. The VACs have defined areas of patrol and it includes part of unincorporated Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me as antiquated that volunteer firefighters and EMTs are utilized in such a major metropolitan municipality like Greenburgh. Nothing against them at all, and it's very nice of them, but there are just so many "Mayberry-ish" governmental systems around here.

Why not just two normal municipal fire/EMT departments - one exclusively for the river villages for when they secede soon and one for Greenburgh - each with various station houses, like Yonkers, for example. Just seems like it would be more efficient.

Regarding tax breaks and such, simply follow the state law - period - with no special Greenburgh exceptions.

Anonymous said...

Did you knoe that more than 90% of the country's firefighters are "mayberry-ish".
The number 1 expense in any company (private or public) is payroll. How are you going to pay for 100+ firefighters @ about $80k a year( plus benifits, vacation, etc)?
A village inquired how much to have a professional ambulance on call 24/7 in the village. the cost?
1 million dollars a year.
Where will all this money come from?

There is no Greenburgh exception. this is the way the state set it up to get the tax break. Greenburgh is not making it's own break.

Praetor said...

Ah yes, then taxes would really skyrocket. And who would they blame? LOL

Anonymous said...

Paul,

This just isnt fair. I pay taxes to my local fire district which is staffed principally by paid personnel. Why should the town subsidize the areas that use volunteers? No one is saying that volunteers dont deserve gratitude, but why do I have to pay twice? Could you please answer that?

Anonymous said...

Should you be in a mood to answer questions the posting at 3:08PM on May first has some good questions but has been completely ignored. Perhaps the answers are too embarrassing for public discussion, or perhaps, once again, Feiner chooses not to respond to anything he perceives of as criticism.

Anonymous said...

Feiner, Bass, Barnes, Juettner & Sheehan all voted to schedule a hearing on the tax exemptions for volunteers. They all are working for the adoption of the same law and have publicly come out in support of the law. Hope they won't wimp out because of an anonymous blogger.

Anonymous said...

The town council has not yet taken a position, pro or con, on the issue of these exemptions.

All they did was go along with Feiner's request for a hearing so that the public could be heard on the matter.

Feiner's suggestion that the town council members are all working for the adoption of the exemptions couldn't possibly be true.

No town council member would announce in advance of a hearing how he or she feels about a matter until the public has been heard.

They at least respect the public; Feiner doesn't care what the public might have to say, unless whoever shows up supports his position.

Feiner will use this issue to get as many volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers as he can to show up and shout down any residents from paid districts who feel the town shouldn't get into the business of having them subsidize the volunteer districts, particularly where the state has provided an alternative benefit, at the request of the state volunteer firefighters lobby, that will encourage more volunteers because its benefit is immediate -- unlike Feiner's which takes 5 years -- and is available to everyone including renters -- unlike Feiner's which is available only to property owners.

Anonymous said...

We can not afford Mr. Feiner encouraging the rule of the mob. Speaking of which, when are we going to demand money back from Valhalla -- or are we afraid that Paul will bring that mob back to harras all who oppose the return of funs illegallyprovided.

Anonymous said...

The people in Hartsdale, Fairview and Greenville are getting the short end of it again. This should not pass. I hope the Town board wakes up quickly. Who does this benifit? not many people will even Qualify for this rebate. It's just not worth the agravation. Why don't we give everybody a tax break !!! You can't even call these people volunteers anymore because of all the perks they receive.