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Irwin to make deal with North Huntingdon for volunteer firefighter, EMS tax credit |

Irwin to make deal with North Huntingdon for volunteer firefighter, EMS tax credit

Joe Napsha
Volunteer firefighters work to extinguish a fire that broke out behind a wood fired oven at Do Wood-Fired Pizza on Fifth Street in 2015.

Irwin residents who are active volunteers with one of North Huntingdon’s fire departments or North Huntingdon EMS/Rescue, and even those who join in the future, will get a tax break under an agreement the borough’s solicitor will prepare.

Irwin Council on Wednesday authorized Solicitor Zachary Kansler to prepare an agreement with North Huntingdon that would make the active volunteers from Irwin who serve in North Huntingdon eligible for a 20% tax credit on their municipal real estate tax bill and a $250 refund on their earned income tax bill from Irwin. The volunteer service tax credit program was created by state Act 172.

North Huntingdon in March granted its residents who meet the criteria for active volunteer service with the Irwin fire department or the Irwin VFD Ambulance Service the same tax break. But the North Huntingdon commissioners limited the benefit to those on Irwin’s roster as of March 20, the date the resolution was approved.

Council President Rick Burdelski said he did not understand why North Huntingdon would prevent those township residents who join Irwin’s department in the future from receiving the tax break.

“You’re talking about a small pool of people,” Burdelski said.

About 16 township residents are members of Irwin’s fire department, North Huntingdon Manager Jeff Silka said last month.

Mayor Bill Hawley also wondered why North Huntingdon would not let future volunteers benefit from the tax credit.

“Why anyone screws with them (volunteers), I don’t know,” Hawley said.

Irwin Fire Chief Justin Mochar, a North Huntingdon resident, said he was OK with North Huntingdon refusing the grant the tax breaks to future firefighters.

“I think it will sell them (volunteers) to join Irwin,” Mochar said. “It definitely will push them to join the department where they live.”

Mochar asked Irwin officials last year to create a volunteer service tax credit program set up by the state. Irwin in February joined a growing list of communities in the county that approved that tax credit program.

North Huntingdon in February 2018 was the first municipality in the county to approve the volunteer service tax credit for its volunteer fire departments and ambulance service.

The criteria for volunteers to qualify is the same in Irwin and North Huntingdon. The volunteers must respond to 10% of total calls in a year, participate in 20 hours of training and 35% of the fundraising activities. EMS volunteers must log 120 hours of service, including training, staffing hours and meetings, to be eligible.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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