LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Lancaster County has thousands of active fire and EMS volunteers, but it still struggles to recruit along with the rest of the state.
“We’ve been in a volunteer first responder crisis,” Chief Scott Little from the Manheim Township Fire Rescue said.
Now the county is looking to give an incentive to those volunteers in hopes of boosting numbers.
County Commissioners are on the same page with giving a tax credit, but not all of the approximate 3,000 in the county will qualify.
The Commissioners have been in talks with the County’s Fire and Chief’s Association over the last ten months.
A final rebate amount hasn’t been decided, but the Commissioners believe it will be about $150 annually per volunteer.
“This is about doing what we can under authorization of the state legislature to incentivize recruitment and retention of our wonderful volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line to protect ours,” Ray D’Agostino, one of the Lancaster County Commissioners said.
Currently, Lancaster has around 3,000 active volunteers in EMS and fire, but only around 1,000 would qualify for the rebate.
The reason: they have to own land.
“Counties only have real estate taxes so we don’t have an earned income tax. Unless the state law changes there’s nothing the county can do but offer a tax credit refund on real estate taxes paid,” D’Agostino said.
If the price is $150 per qualifying volunteer, the county would pay around $150,000 annually for the tax credit.
Commissioners would like to see other municipalities offer a rebate.
“We’re hoping that others will join in and match or exceed what we’re doing,” D’Agostino said.
The Commissioners believe they can get this finalized and put into the 2024 budget.