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Somerset Township approves tax credit for firefighters, other first responders

October 12, 2018

The Somerset Township supervisors finalized a firefighter tax credit Thursday for first responders living in the municipality.

The supervisors passed an ordinance that will give any fire department volunteer a tax reimbursement of 20 percent of their property taxes and $200 off their earned income taxes. The township’s property tax rate is 1.61 mills.

Supervisors Vice Chairman Daniel Halverson said the ordinance will take effect next year.

“It’s a rebate for services performed for the community of Somerset Township,” he said.

A volunteer must serve a minimum of 100 hours a year with volunteer emergency services and must be a township resident to qualify. The credit does not count against school, county, state or federal taxes.

“The Somerset Township Volunteer Fire Companies and Somerset Township Non-Profit Emergency Medical Service Agencies shall be responsible for maintaining a list of activities and time spent by each qualified Volunteer First Responder who is a member of their organization,” the ordinance states.

Conemaugh Township was the first municipality to enact a tax incentive in Somerset County. It was finalized in June. Conemaugh Township’s ordinance gave any fire department or EMS volunteer the same incentives as Somerset Township.

In February Somerset Borough and Somerset Township met to discuss how to implement Pennsylvania Act 172, which allows municipalities to set up the tax credit.

In a phone call with the Daily American, borough Manager Michele Enos said the council will be talking about setting up a similar tax break as early as November, using the township’s ordinance as a guideline.

“They will forward a copy of their ordinance to us, and I will be circulating it with our members,” she said.

No one from Somerset Borough was at the township meeting Thursday.

Township officials are hoping this tax credit will reward current volunteers, while encouraging more residents to join volunteer fire and EMS departments.

“I think it’s very important to retain volunteer firefighters,” Halverson said. “Whatever we can do to help volunteer firefighters is very important to us.”

A copy of the township’s ordinance can be found online at www.dailyamerican.com.

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