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Hampton/Shaler

Shaler volunteer EMS workers, firefighters can apply for tax credit

| Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service workers may now apply for up to $300 in earned income tax credits, due to an ordinance the township commissioners passed last week.

The North Hills Council of Governments, of which Shaler is a member, formed a committee that drafted eligibility requirements for the compensation. For instance, the volunteers must achieve a minimum of 50 hours of service through training, call participation, public relations, community events or fundraising.

Township Manager Tim Rogers said one does not need to serve on the front lines with the departments to earn the tax credits.

The criteria comply with the requirements of the state law Act 172, which passed in January, giving municipalities the option to grant fire and EMS volunteers credits for their local taxes.

Prior to the vote, the township held a public hearing.

“As many of you know, volunteers — we're the backbone of the EMS. For quite a few years, we have slowly, but steadily been losing them. This will certainly be beneficial for those individuals. It will make volunteering even more rewarding than it already is,” said Joe Johnson, Shaler Emergency Medical Services director.

Undercliff Volunteer Fire Co. President John Klocko Sr. concurred.

“Statistics say that 25 years ago we had 300,000 firemen in the state of Pennsylvania. We're down to under 60,000. And we have our challenges here in Shaler, where some of our companies are thriving, some of them are struggling.

“Where some of them are struggling to get out the door, maybe this will provide some incentive to some of the residents to get involved.”

Also at the meeting:

• Township engineer Matt Sebastian said contractors have finished installing bridges in the lower portion of the park, as part of the ongoing renovations. In the falls area, they are concentrating on the walkway, handrail, platform and stairs that people use when traveling from a bridge at the bottom of the slope to the top of the falls. At the top of the park, stone and branch layering work remains.

Sebastian and Rogers addressed Facebook comments on photos of the repairs.

“One of the issues that was raised through Facebook comments was that some of the work is diluting some of the pre-existing natural confines,” said Rogers, who noted that township officials want the project to protect the park's bridges and preserve its streams.

“The pictures that are going up there are of mostly work that is being done, which does not affect 100 percent of the park, so there are long stretches of trail and stream that have been completely untouched by the project,” Sebastian said.

At the end of his report, Sebastian reiterated that the park remains closed due to unsafe conditions.

• The commissioners decided that the 2018 Crawford Pool season pass rate will not be changed.

Residents may use a five- or 10-day admission pass on weekdays or weekends. The nontransferable pass will feature the pass holder's photo. Proof of residency is required. Rates for the five-day pass are: ages 2 to 5, $5; 6 to 17, $20; 18 to 65, $25. Rates for the 10-day pass are: ages 2 to 5, $10; 6 to 17, $40; 18 to 64, $50.

A family fun day pass will allow up to six members of a resident family to purchase a one-day pass for $30 or four members for $20. Proof of residency will remain for the past purchaser.

“This would allow grandparents to purchase a one-day family pass to allow their grandchildren to enjoy the pool,” according to Commissioner Susan Fisher. Photo identification would not be required.

Early bird pass or mail applications received by April 15 will offer a 5 percent discount. The pool rental fee will increase from $350 to $400.

• In 2018, the township will discontinue use of Fied Field in Glenshaw. Officials will block it off and install signs announcing its closure.

“I did consult with the Shaler soccer organization and they advised that they no longer need the use of the facility or that its location is not high on the list of the people who went there,” said Rogers.

• The township has hired David Thens, full-time public works employee, and Beverly Landy, part-time police department clerk.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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