Bill seeks to let fire departments keep more fundraising money

Pennsylvania

Those who come to the rescue of others need a little help from lawmakers, and Sen. Scott Martin is hoping to do just that.

Martin’s Senate Bill 83 passed out of committee Wednesday, seeking to let volunteer fire departments keep more of the money from their fundraisers.

The bill would exempt volunteer companies from paying sales tax on food and drinks sold during raffles, BBQ”s or breakfasts.

As costs continue to rise and volunteers continue to fall, the Middletown Volunteer Fire Department knows how tough times can be.

“The cost to maintain current equipment, replace existing outdated equipment and to purchase new technologies in this business, is a challenge,” said Middletown’s deputy chief, Justin Gilday.

He says their fundraising efforts aren’t what they used to be, having eliminated three past activities, including BBQ dinners, bingo nights and pancake breakfasts.

“When you take the time that our volunteers put in versus what we would get for the profit, it just wasn’t there,” Gilday said.

Part of the reason could be the lost sales tax he and other departments must pay the state after each event.

And because most events end up costing them money – they now host just two all year.

“Currently, we have fundraisers for Christmas tree sales in December and we also have a gun raffle that’s typically in fall,” said Gilday, who’s hopeful Senator Martin’s bill will progress and become law.

“This will allow us to dedicate more money that we’ve earned to purchase equipment that’s needed, outdated equipment and newer technologies,” he said.
 

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