Volunteer firefighters say new law is a good change, but they need more

Local

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – A new Pennsylvania law exempts volunteer fire departments from paying sales tax on food and drinks sold at fundraisers.

“It’s very good news for all the volunteer fire departments,” said Lower Swatara Fire Chief John Weikle, who has been in the volunteer fire service for 40 years.

Weikle says while the change is a step in the right direction, there needs to be more help for departments already dealing with a decreased number of volunteers.

“The bill outlines food and beverage, but there’s more to it,” said Weikle. “We have hall rentals. We do forestry deployments.”

Senator Scott Martin spearheaded the proposal.

“When you’re talking about people who are committed to saving lives and property and then as a side mission, they’re willing to give all this time and effort to raise funds to support that mission and buy new equipment…for me, we need to make it as easy as possible,” said Martin.

Between chicken barbecues and pancake breakfasts, the law should save some departments thousands of dollars.

The goal is to allow that money to be used for training and equipment.

“We need to continue to do these types of things that will make their job easier,” said Martin.

The chief says while this change will save departments money, they also just got an added expense: stormwater management.

“Any tax-exempt entity still has to pay when they make it a fee,” said Weikle.

More than 90% of Pennsylvania’s fire companies are volunteer.

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