So much of what we can and can’t do at the township level is determined by rules set in place by Harrisburg. For that reason over the last 4 years we have taken an active role in advocating for helpful legislation in Harrisburg. We’ve done this on a number of occasions but I wanted to highlight one success story.
Last December Harrisburg enacted Act 172 which allows the township flexibility to give credits to volunteer firefighters. Lower Mac will be taking advantage of this starting next year by waiving 100% of municipal earned income taxes for volunteers. This also includes the ambulance core for those who qualify. Prior to last year this wasn’t an option.
Our advocacy for the enabling legislation began over a year ago when I asked our board to consider a resolution encouraging local state leaders to support the idea. So, we drafted approved and sent it away to our State Representative and Senator. Similar legislation was considered for years but never could get out the starting gate. So we felt it was important to let elected officials know just how important this was. After Lower Mac’s advocacy Ryan Mackenzie our State Rep. became a co-sponsor of a bill allowing the credit. And since then it has been signed by the Gov. and passed into law.
Starting next year LMFD firefighters who live in the township will benefit from this team effort. It’s important we pursue these benefits as unfortunately volunteerism wains. in 1976, PA had a total of 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today, that number has dwindled to about 50,000. So, we must do everything we can to encourage the recruitment and retention of volunteers. For a volunteer making the median income the credit will put 300 dollars back into their pocket.
Now this and other benefits alone of course aren’t the core reasons our volunteers do what they do. In the grand scheme I wish we could do even more. But little every bit helps. I’m convinced of that. And we’ll continue to do our part as much as we can. And in all areas where we see opportunities to advocate with the state for more flexible laws our Board will continue to do so.