Irwin has joined the growing list of municipalities giving active volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel a tax break as an incentive to volunteer.
Council approved an ordinance last week providing borough residents active in either the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department or EMS the opportunity for a 20 percent tax credit on their municipal real estate tax bill and a $250 refund on earned income tax.
To be eligible, firefighters must respond to 10 percent of call volume per year, undergo 20 hours of training and participate in 35 percent of fundraising activities. Those volunteering for the fire department’s EMS must provide 120 hours of service, including staffing hours, meetings and training.
The tax breaks offered are similar to those provided by North Huntingdon.
Irwin residents who are active firefighters or EMS personnel in North Huntingdon would be eligible for the same tax breaks as the active volunteers for Irwin’s fire department and EMS if North Huntingdon approves a reciprocal agreement, said borough manager Valerie Morton.
The issue will be discussed during a March 14 special North Huntingdon commissioners meeting, said township manager Jeff Silka. Silka said the matter was not discussed when commissioners approved the volunteer service tax credit program last year.
Among North Huntingdon residents serving with the Irwin department is Justin Mochar, the borough’s fire chief. Mochar had asked council last year to consider granting the active firefighters a tax break as a way of attracting and retaining members. Mochar could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
North Huntingdon was the county’s first municipality to give financial incentives to emergency responders.
Earlier this month, Unity Township passed a tax credit program for residents who live there and serve with the Youngstown department or one of the eight Unity departments.
In December, Delmont passed a tax credit program for active borough volunteer firefighters; similar ordinances were approved in Murrysville and Export.