North Huntingdon OKs fire tax credit deal with Irwin, but with a hitch
North Huntingdon residents already volunteering with Irwin’s fire department or emergency medical service will get a tax break similar to one proposed for Irwin residents serving the same roles in North Huntingdon.
North Huntingdon commissioners this week unanimously approved extending the volunteer service tax credit for residents serving in Irwin since at least Wednesday, said Zachary Haigis, president of the board of commissioners. People who start volunteering after that date would not be eligible.
Irwin council previously adopted a tax-break ordinance that applies to borough residents who volunteer with North Huntingdon fire or EMS now or in the future. The ordinance depended on the township passing a reciprocal agreement.
With this week’s vote, the tax credit could extend to 16 North Huntingdon residents volunteering with the Irwin fire department, Jeff Silka, township manager, previously told commissioners.
Both municipalities followed guidelines for tax credits under state Act 172 for active volunteers — a $250 rebate in earned income tax and a 20 percent credit on local government real estate tax. Township residents volunteering in Irwin would be eligible for the tax credit starting in 2020.
Irwin Council President Rick Burdelski said there are no plans to change the borough’s ordinance regarding its volunteer service tax credit program, but the matter would be discussed at council’s workshop meeting in April.
The criteria for volunteers to quality is the same in both Irwin and North Huntingdon — responding to 10 percent of total calls in a year, 20 hours of training and participating in 35 percent of the fundraising activities. For EMS volunteers, they must log 120 hours of service, including training, staffing hours and meetings.
Irwin fire Chief Justin Mochar lives in North Huntingdon. Last year, he urged the borough to adopt the volunteer service tax credit.
At a meeting last week, Haigis said there might be two or three township fire departments that could benefit from those first responders volunteering in Irwin.
Commissioner Dave Herold, a former Circleville fire chief, favored extending the tax break to township residents volunteering in Irwin.
“They are all first responders. They help save lives,” Herold said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .