Qualifying members of volunteer fire departments in Unity and Youngstown will be eligible for a break on township taxes beginning next year, through a volunteer service credit program approved Thursday by the Unity Township supervisors.
“We want to help them with recruitment,” Supervisor Ed Poponick said of the fire departments. “Hopefully, this will do it.”
Supervisors Chairman John Mylant noted local firefighters, between snow storms and an overabundance of rain, have had plenty of miserable weather to deal with in recent months as they performed their duties.
“They’re always out there,” he said. “They do a lot for our community. We’re proud of them.”
A firefighter who lives in the township, and who serves with the Youngstown department or one of the eight departments based in Unity, is required to amass 50 points to qualify for the tax break, Gary Falatovich, Unity solicitor, explained. Firefighters will earn points through years of service, responding to emergency calls and participating in training.
The program will provide eligible firefighters a rebate equal to 20 percent of their township property tax bill and a credit of up to $250 toward the earned income tax they must pay to the township.
The fire chief at each department will be responsible for tracking points and submitting an eligibility list to the township by Feb. 1 of each year.
The township then will alert the respective collectors — Berkheimer Associates for the earned income tax and Mark Burkardt for the real estate tax.
“To make a volunteer fire department work, we have people that are very active responding to calls and we have a business side of the fire department as well,” said John Bacha, a member of the Unity Township Fire Bureau. “For those who are still participating in the fire service in one way or another, they should be able to qualify for this credit.”
Unity levies a 2.2-mill tax on real estate for the general fund. A separate Unity fire tax, which helps cover rising training and equipment costs for the township fire departments, was increased from 1 mill to 2 mills last year.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.