Tax credits considered for volunteer EMS

By on October 25, 2017

A meeting Tuesday with leaders in the Cocalico region met focused on supporting EMS volunteers.

Municipal leaders from Adamstown and Denver boroughs, and East and West Cocalico townships agreed that volunteer emergency responders, should be credited for their sacrificial service and unvarying on-call status.

Credit includes whether they are firefighters, ambulance personnel, fire police or volunteers who are the backbone of fundraising events such as Bingo, dinners, and sub sales.

The Oct. 24 meeting at East Cocalico Township, included leaders from each fire company who offered input as to what the volunteers would find helpful under the state’s Act 172.

Denver President, Mike Bonneau, said that Act 172 permitted some relief for active volunteers in two areas, earned income tax and real estate tax. Denver firefighters at a monthly meeting felt some earned income tax credit would benefit more volunteers.

“Some of our volunteers don’t own property or they may not own property in the municipality where they serve,” said Bonneau.

The Cocalico area has seven fire companies: Adamstown, Denver, three in East Cocalico Township (Reamstown, Smokestown, Stevens) and two in West Cocalico (Reinholds and Schoeneck).

Veteran Reamstown firefighter, Harvey Achey said, “My opinion is that we volunteer and provide the service. We’d like to know what you (municipal leaders) are offering.”

J.J. Stoner, West Cocalico Township supervisor said, “I had one person come to me and say they’re really not interested. I don’t think anyone here knows in what direction we want to go. That’s why we need your (volunteer firefighters) help.”

Denver Council president, Blake Daub said, “I’ve heard it’s an administrative burden. I’d like to know what the benefit is.”

East Cocalico Township supervisor chairman, Doug Mackley said, “I’m a little leery of the words ‘active firefighter’ and would want to know how that’s defined.”

Smokestown Chief, Brian Auker, said, “We all keep logs for every call. We do that paperwork.”

After 45 minutes of insightful discussion by many individuals, leaders agreed to form a task force of two representatives from each fire company and one person from each of the four Cocalico municipalities. The task force will discuss Act 172 and return to a regional meeting with a recommendation for leaders as to how it could be applied to them.

The next scheduled, quarterly, regional meeting is on Jan. 23, 2018 at Adamstown at 7 pm.

In other business, regional leaders:

“Heard Adamstown councilman, Mike Wetherhold, who also wears the “hat” of treasurer of the Adamstown Area Library, report on the capital campaign and other budgetary items. The capital campaign goal of $1.5 million is nearly sixty percent funded at $850,000. State funding currently amounts to eighteen percent of the total operating budget. When the library, which currently is housed in the Adamstown municipal building, moves into the former Adamstown VFW, it will have a mortgage in addition to other expenses.

“Sherri Stull, Cocalico School District business manager, reported thanks from Superintendent Ella Musser. There are nearly 1,000 approved volunteers, 90 businesses providing services such as job shadowing and internships, 30 businesses helping with STEM programs, two dozen artists doing school programs, and many individual and group donations to the Family Fund. This provides students services not able to be covered in any other way. “The environment at Cocalico is overwhelmingly positive. The investment of so many people in the students shows in their behavior. They are friendly, polite and well-mannered. You can be proud.”

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