355 volunteer first responders qualify for county property tax rebate

Chester County first responder leadership, lauded the volunteer first responder county real estate tax rebate program: Matt Eick, President, Chester County EMS Council.

Six months after the Chester County Commissioners enacted a County Real Estate Tax Rebate ordinance for volunteer fire company and EMS agency members, 355 qualified volunteer first responders and administrative members have successfully applied to recoup some or all of their County property taxes.

This number represents 60 percent of the total number of individuals who are eligible for a 2024 County tax rebate, as identified by their respective first responder agencies.  The combined estimated Chester County property tax rebate for all 355 applicants is more than $167,000.

The Active Volunteer Real Estate Tax Rebate Ordinance, approved by the County Commissioners last October, provides a financial incentive, in the form of a rebate, on Chester County real estate tax imposed by the County of Chester for first responder volunteers.

Volunteers can be an emergency responder, an administrative member of a fire company or EMS agency, or both.

Chester County Treasurer Patricia Maisano, who is responsible for the issue and collection of County property taxes, commented on the initial success of the tax rebate program:  “Chester County was the first in Southeastern PA to enact this county property tax rebate, and it is encouraging that a significant number of individuals and families will be able to recoup some or all of their county tax as a direct result of their incredible service to our community.

“The responsibility they assume – keeping their family, friends, and neighbors safe – takes extensive training and time.  Rewarding that dedication is the right thing to do, not just for current volunteer first responders, but for future generations.

“While the remaining volunteer first responders who qualify have until January 2025 to submit the paperwork needed for the rebate, we encourage them to apply long before then,” added Maisano.

Chester County’s Active Volunteer Real Estate Tax Rebate program is based on a point system earned through emergency response calls, training, meeting attendance, public education activities, leadership roles and other activities such as fundraising events.  Attainment of the maximum number of points available results in a 100 percent rebate on the county property tax, with lower points levels resulting in a lesser percentage tax rebate.  Volunteers must be residents of Chester County who volunteer with an eligible agency.

Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Marian Moskowitz and Eric Roe noted the county’s increase in population as another key reason for this incentive.  “Chester County is one of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania, and an increase in people means an increased need for first responder services. One of the reasons we enacted this real estate tax rebate is to show our current volunteer firefighters and EMTs that we value them, and another reason is to motivate more people to volunteer.”

Gerald DiNunzio, President of the Chester County Fire Chiefs Association, said, “This incentive is an important step our County takes to help recruit and retain the volunteer first responders.  Our volunteers play a vital role in protecting all who live in and visit Chester County.  Volunteering first responders invest a significant part of their free time in training, responding to emergencies, and administrative tasks.  They expect no financial gain in return for their dedicated service; this incentive is a well-earned thank you for taking on such an essential, and at times, thankless role.”

Matthew Eick, President of the Chester County EMS Council, noted, “There has been a steady decline in volunteers to support EMS and fire companies nationwide.  A program such as this tax rebate is a way to thank our volunteers and show appreciation for their years of dedication.  I am thankful that the County Commissioners found a way to think outside the box and provide a benefit to our volunteers.

“This is a step forward and paves the way for other unique programs to follow suit, to attract new volunteers and retain the volunteer responders who are already providing the service in our county,” added Eick.

Information about the Active Volunteer Real Estate Tax Rebate can be found at www.chesco.org/responder-rebate.

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