Pa. council approves tax rebate for volunteer firefighters, EMTs
The 20 percent rebate council approved Monday is the maximum amount a municipality can offer under the law, according to officials
By Clayton Over
JESSUP, Pa. — Borough council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday night that will give borough volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians a 20 percent municipal property tax break through a rebate program.
Borough officials believe Jessup is among the first municipalities in Northeast Pennsylvania to enact such an ordinance. A recent state law authorized municipalities to offer incentives like tax credits to attract and retain volunteer fire and ambulance personnel. The 20 percent rebate council approved Monday is the maximum amount a municipality can offer under the law, borough solicitor Richard Fanucci said.
The ordinance will be in effect for the 2018 tax year. Under the program, a volunteer will pay a tax bill in full, then submit an application for the tax credit, Fanucci said. The volunteer will have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the credit and a fire chief will have to sign off on the application.
The municipal property tax rate in Jessup is 21.7 mills. The median residential assessed value of property in Jessup is $8,246 and carries a $178.94 municipal real estate tax bill. The tax credit would be about $35.79.
In setting qualification criteria, council will consider the number of calls volunteers answer, the level of training completed and how much time they spend fundraising, bookkeeping and on other essential duties, Fanucci said. Council will seek input from borough fire chiefs while developing those guidelines and could approve the criteria as early as next month, Fanucci said.
While he said he understands the amount council approved Monday is the legal maximum, Jessup Hose Company 2 First Assistant Chief Joe Fetcho told council members the program isn't enough and won't be much of an incentive when comparing the return to the amount of time volunteers put into their duties.
"I think they should eliminate it for the volunteers, eliminate the property tax, then it might be an incentive," Fetcho said. "But for $30, you might as well keep my $30."
In other business, council voted to hire Larson Design Group for $10,800 to conduct a review of a proposal from Invenergy to discharge industrial wastewater from the Chicago-based company's currently under construction power plant into the municipal sewer system instead of into Grassy Island Creek.
Copyright 2017 The Times-Tribune