Lawmakers in Montgomery County, Maryland, will introduce legislation Tuesday that would make first responders who are living in the county, or want to live in the county, eligible for a $2,500 property tax credit.
County officials admit they are having problems retaining and recruiting first responders, a trend they say is playing out on the national level, and they hope the tax credits can help address the issue.
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“We’ve seen skyrocketing overtime and training costs due to our job vacancies and high attrition rates,” Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker said Monday during a weekly news briefing.
“This legislation sends an important signal that our first responders are valued and that we want to achieve the public safety benefits that accrue to a neighborhood when you have first responders living in your community and not being forced by our high housing prices to live outside the county,” he said.
Police, career firefighters and emergency communication center operators will be eligible for the tax credit should the legislation pass.
Hucker said that if the council can do something to offset the high costs of housing in the county, everyone will benefit.
“We want our first responders — as many as possible — who choose to live in Montgomery County going to our houses of worship, joining our neighborhood associations, supporting our local small businesses and sending their kids to our schools,” Hucker said.
Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz said the state passed legislation allowing the benefit, which Howard County has already taken advantage of.
“Significant steps need to be taken to address some of those recruitment and retention issues,” Albornoz said. “It is undeniably the best practice to have our first responders living in the communities that they serve. We view this as a win-win all the way around.”
A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9.