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Coolbaugh Township Considering Tax Relief for Volunteer Firefighters

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COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP -- Tomas Keane is the captain and president of the Coolbaugh Township Volunteer Fire Department. He knows all too well the struggles of getting volunteers to respond to a fire, especially during the work week.

"Voluntarism is down. A tone drops and you're hoping you're going to have enough to staff an engine, a truck, to actually get there," said Keane.

The township board of supervisors is looking at different ways to encourage people to join. One consideration being discussed--offering a form of tax relief to volunteers.

"Pennsylvania Act 172, we are looking to implement it because the fire department is really short on volunteers and they are an essential and crucial part of our community. Without them, there's only so many that can answer fire calls," said Maureen Mills, Coolbaugh Township business manager.

Act 172 was passed by state legislators back in 2016. It allows municipalities to create tax incentives for volunteers of fire companies and nonprofit EMS agencies.

Township officials say there are still a few details that need to be hashed out, but the hope is to have some type of tax relief implemented by next year. Fire officials think this is a good incentive to get volunteers.

"It's a different age group now. You're trying to reach out to give them an incentive to show up, so this way the doors stay open to the fire company," said Keane.

Officials say if the tax incentive gets approval, it would only apply to volunteers who live in the township, pending an eligibility application.

If you're interested in volunteering, Coolbaugh Township Volunteer Fire Department members meet every Monday night for training.

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