CLIFTON, PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A group of volunteer firefighters in Clifton Park is suing the town assessor to receive residential tax credits. It was respectful but quick. Monday afternoon, Art Hunsinger, on behalf of Clifton Park’s volunteer firefighters, served Walter Smead, the town’s assessor.
“The law is very confusing, it definitely needs some clarification, there’s different interpretations of it, so if this gets it in front of a judge,” Smead explained.
Let’s break down the moving parts.
There are four taxes for which a 10 percent credit can be applied to volunteer firefighters if approved by municipalities:
- school district
- fire district
There are two main players involved in this disagreement:
- A group of Clifton Park volunteer firefighters, represented by Art Hunsinger
- Walter Smead, Clifton Park’s Town Assessor
Assessor Smead says his interpretation of the law is that firefighters don’t qualify for any of the tax credits if they live in a fire district different from the one they volunteer in.
“It’s all about jurisdiction of the fire company, and in order to be eligible you have to live in the fire district” he told us.
Art Hunsinger says as long as the firefighters live in Clifton Park, they should receive the residential tax benefits.
“Mr. Smead is interpreting the law to say you have to live in the fire district that you serve in order to get the exemption, that is not what the law says” said Hunsinger.
Town supervisor Phil Barrett says while the volunteer firefighters may not qualify for the fire district tax credit, they should receive school and county tax credits.
“If we had my druthers they would be receiving the exemption and we wouldn’t be in this position” Barrett said.
Hunsinger explained these tax credits are needed to attract people to serve as unpaid first responders.
“This is a thank you for what you do, since you don’t get paid,” Hunsinger said. ” And it’s also recruitment tool for us we can say to people who own their houses who may be on the board of volunteers here’s a little something that you get if you become a volunteer” he added.
The matter will be brought to court and that court date is still pending.