Changes Made to Volunteer Service Credit Program in Sugarcreek Borough

| December 7, 2017

SUGARCREEK, Pa. (EYT) – Sugarcreek Borough solicitor Brian Spaid suggested a couple of changes to the Volunteer Service Credit program for volunteers of fire departments who meet certain requirements.

Council members met during their regular meeting on Wednesday night.

Volunteers from both Reno Volunteer Fire Department and Rocky Grove Volunteer Fire Department will be eligible to apply for the property tax rebate should the ordinance be passed.

The program gives a 20 percent property tax rebate (on the borough’s portion of the taxes) to volunteer firefighters living in the borough.

Spaid said he has now included members of the ladies auxiliary, and he took out the ability to apply for it in 2017.

He said the program will begin in 2018, which would allow volunteers to apply for the credit in 2019.

Spaid also addressed a question that was brought up during the previous meeting on if both a husband and wife would be able to apply for the credit if they were both volunteers.

“A husband and wife will be allowed to apply for the credit,” Spaid said. “They would receive 40 percent off of the residence tax bill.”

Spaid told the council that any additional changes can be made up to the meeting on December 20, at which point the ordinance will be voted on.

Spaid told the council that as of January 20. 2017, when the program went into effect, out of 2,500 municipalities only about 65 have considered enacting it or have enacted it.

“I commend council for considering the program,” Spaid said to Council.

During the previous council meeting, both Reno Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Garbacz and Rocky Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeremy Simcheck stated that they believe the borough should enact both the property tax rebate and Earned Income Tax (EIT) credit as allowed by Pennsylvania Act 172 of 2016 that authorizes the establishment of a Volunteer Service Credit program for volunteers of fire departments who meet certain requirements. (Municipalities can give anywhere between one percent and 100 percent rebate on the EIC or do a set rebate amount.)

Spaid told the council that they should start with the property tax rebate and then add in the EIT credit later on.

The proposed ordinance also defines eligibility requirements for active volunteers and administrative details.
Some of the highlights of that include: a volunteer must be a Sugarcreek Borough resident and a member of either the Rocky Grove Volunteer Fire Department, the Rocky Grove Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, or the Reno Volunteer Fire Department.

In addition, volunteers must earn “credits” which can be accumulated in a variety of ways including responding to emergency calls, training, fundraising, facility or equipment maintenance, financial bookkeeping, involvement in other events or projects that aid the financial viability, and emergency response. Total years a volunteer has served is also a factor.

The tax credit program will be devised by the departments and approved by the borough. It will be the responsibility of the chiefs at the departments to record the credits and give the borough a list of eligible firefighters for the previous year by January 15 of the year after the eligibility.


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