COLONIE — Town Supervisor Peter G. Crummey recalled his campaign promise to manage the core issues prior to breaking down last year’s results in his State of the Town message two weeks ago — and with it, a promise to look into helping local volunteer firefighters.
Within his 30-minute message, he said the Town would pursue the benefits of a partial tax exemption for emergency volunteers, a measure recently passed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Hochul signed legislation in December, allowing local governments an opt-in to provide a partial property tax exemption to volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers. The law, Chapter 670 of the Laws of 2022, allows municipalities to offer an exemption of up to 10 percent of the assessed value of the primary residence of volunteer firefighters and/or volunteer ambulance workers.
The exemption would only be granted for property owned and used as the primary residence of the volunteer firefighter or volunteer ambulance worker. The property must be located within the municiplality and within the jurisdiction served by the fire company, fire department, or ambulance entity to which the volunteer belongs. If a portion of a volunteer’s property is used for other purposes, the exemption would be prorated and only apply to the portion of the property used exclusively for residential purposes.
The measure was signed into law to help communities attract and retain volunteers. According to the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, fewer residents are volunteering to join fire companies. In 2021, it reported approximately 80,000 volunteers across the state. In the early 2000s, there were around 120,000.
In his message, Crummey cited more than 14,000 emergency calls last year, a 5 percent jump from the year before. The Town Board introduced fee offsets to volunteers at local parks last year. This year, he said, Town Hall would look into the partial tax exemption.
“We do not have to look very far to see examples of exceptional service by our volunteer fire departments,” Crummey said. “These volunteers put their lives at risk for the safety of others. I cannot think of a higher order of volunteer service. Volunteer fire like so many volunteer organizations, often find an increasing challenge to gain new volunteers. We must support their work whatever we can and create opportunities promoting volunteer fire service.”
The focus on volunteers was just one of several points to Crummey’s “core issues” to which he referred while campaigning for the job in 2021. Those issues included government support, public safety, infrastructure, and public parks.
Colonie Police Department received 72,000 calls in 2022, representing a 5 percent increase over 2021. The department also sponsored nearly 150 community outreach programs.
Town emergency medical services received 14,091 calls in 2022 nearly an increase of 5 percent over the prior year.
The Colonie Highway Department reconditioned 88 roads and performed significant repair to 11 more roads, representing more than 22 miles of surface.
Colonie’s Park on Route 2, just east of the Latham Circle, was rebuilt in 2022; adding new pickleball courts and basketball courts.
After 20 years, outdoor skating returned. In December, the Town flooded courts and groomed ice at our fabulous West Albany Pocket Park and skaters immediately joined the fun.
Supervisor continues to take a “deep dive” look into the Mohawk River Park. The old tennis courts left inoperable for years due to surface decay and large cracks have been removed for replacement with new pickleball and tennis courts. Crummey said he intends to reopen our boat launch access to the Mohawk River.
Town trails are being rehabilitated, which will allow all residents easier access to the full beauty of our 174-acre park and allow our school Children to return their cross-country competitions to the park.
The addition of 127 acres of open space inventory on Sand Creek Road. These lands will ultimately be enhanced to provide a more accessible network of nature trails for our residents to utilize as to our golf course.
Town Board dedicated 41 acres to be preserved and maintained by the Albany Pine Bush Commission, then expanding their environmental holdings to nearly 3400 acres.
The LED light conversion process is proceeding and as of last week, 358 out of the nearly 4000 lights have been replaced, projected to use 50 percent of the electricity to light our streets.
In addition, Climate Smart Communities Task force is awaiting a state review of its application to achieve Climate Smart Community designation.
The town was again named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. reporting nearly 2000 acres of open space under town control.