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Eldred approves tax credit for firefighters

Eldred Township supervisors approved an ordinance Wednesday night establishing a volunteer service credit program.

The program establishes tax credits for residents of Eldred Township who volunteer as firefighters at the Eldred Township Volunteer Fire Company. Currently, there are no volunteer emergency medical service units in the area, but if there were, then the ordinance would also apply to those volunteers.

Michael Gaul, the township solicitor, said the program provides a tax credit of up to $250 of earned income tax to the township. It also includes 100% tax credit relief for property taxes charged by the township, but not for property taxes charged by the school district.

School districts can enact this type of program, but it is up to them.

“It’s not that high, but it’s something for the volunteers,” he said.

Gaul said social members of the fire company are not eligible for the tax exemption, nor do residents who volunteer at a fire company outside of Eldred Township.

Gary Hoffman, the chairman of the supervisors, said, “I think the intent of this is to incentivize folks to get involved with our fire company. ... They come at some of the worst times of our lives. Whatever we can do to help sustain that operation is in everyone’s best interest.”

Fire Chief Brian Stankovich said he plans to get the word out to other fire companies to talk to their municipalities about enacting a similar ordinance.

“This is also to help our township, a marketing tool in our toolbox to help attract new members,” Stankovich said.

Gaul said the qualifications to be considered an active firefighter in the fire department will be determined by the fire company.

The fire department also has some paper keeping requirements that it must maintain.

“The fire supervisors don’t really want to micromanage what the fire company is doing,” Gaul said.

Stankovich said the minimal requirements to be considered an active firefighter include that they must attend six drills and six meetings per month, and volunteer to help with the fundraisers.