York County approves tax credit for volunteer firefighters, EMS

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County took a step forward in providing incentives for residents to serve as volunteer firefighters and nonprofit emergency medical service agencies.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the enactment of a tax refund for volunteer firefighters and EMS agencies. County officials said they don't yet have an estimate on how much the program may cost in its first year.

"In the last 15 years, we've seen an accelerated decline in volunteer firefighters," Shrewsbury Borough Fire Chief Brad Dauberman told the board before the vote. "Volunteer firefighters are the iron men of our community."

The tax refund will help relieve the stress of those who perform multiple roles, Dauberman said. Those roles might include fundraising, training, maintenance on equipment and taking fire calls.

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York County Chief Clerk Greg Monskie said after the meeting the tax relief would be for the county's qualified real estate tax. Volunteers will be eligible for this relief based on points that they earn from service for the companies. If they receive 50 points, they are eligible for 25% relief, and if they receive 100 points, they're eligible for 50% relief.

Points can be earned for completion of services under five categories: emergency responses, training, meetings, work details and fire prevention/public education activities.

Commissioner Doug Hoke noted his father, Paul, had been a volunteer firefighter. "I've known that over the years we've had a problem with recruitment and retention of volunteers. It's a great service they provide and I think that by taking this action, we're actually protecting our community," Hoke said.

York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held by theYork County Rail Trail Authority in celebration of the completion of the first section of the Hanover Trolley Trail expansion at Thomas Field in Spring Grove, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

President of the Fire Chiefs and Firefighters Association Chad Deardorff, who retired from York City's fire department last year, also praised the move.

"It is an excellent, excellent move for York County," Deardorff said. "Thank you for your continued support for York County fire and EMS services."

Applications are due to York County through the volunteer's agency by March 30. For more information on the tax refund and for an application, those who are interested can visit https://yorkcountypa.gov/Volunteer-Emergency-Services-Tax-Refund-Program.

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York County approves lawsuit settlement: The commissioners also unanimously approved the settlement between several Pennsylvania media organizations and Clerk of Courts Dan Byrnes at its meeting — a settlement that had already been publicly announced.

The lawsuit, filed by The York Dispatch, York Daily Record, Spotlight PA, WITF and PennLive, alleged Byrnes exceeded his authority by redacting and impounding documents, as well as through delays in providing those documents after they were requested — situations, the media outlets alleged, that violated state and federal constitutional rights of access to criminal judicial records.

Changes included a narrower set of criteria for redacting information in documents, making key information available in cases deemed “impounded” and faster response times to provide requested documents.

Certain personal and private information about people in criminal case documents will remain restricted. In particular, the names of youths involved in physical or sexual abuse, as well as victims of human trafficking, will remain confidential under state laws, according to the agreement.

The settlement also calls for the clerk's office to pay nearly $7,000 in legal fees on behalf of the newspapers.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.