[Adopted 3-26-2018 by Ord. No. 645-2018]
The following words and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings given to them in this section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- ACTIVE VOLUNTEER
- A volunteer for a volunteer fire company or nonprofit emergency medical service agency listed under § 201-40C who has complied with, and is certified under, the Volunteer Service Credit Program.
- EARNED INCOME TAX
- A tax on earned income and net profits levied under Chapter 3 of the Act of December 31, 1965 (P.L. 1257, No. 511), known as the "Local Tax Enabling Act."
- ELIGIBILITY PERIOD
- The time frame when volunteers may earn credit under the Volunteer Service Credit Program.
- EMERGENCY RESPONDER
- A volunteer who responds to an emergency call with one of the entities listed under § 201-40C.
- EMERGENCY RESPONSE CALL
- Any emergency call to which a volunteer responds, including travel directly from and to a volunteer's home, place of business or other place where he/she shall have been when the call was received.
- QUALIFIED REAL PROPERTY
- A residential real property owned and occupied as the domicile of an active volunteer.
- A member of a volunteer fire department or a nonprofit emergency medical service agency who receives no compensation for his volunteer services. For the purpose of this definition, "compensation" does not include training provided to the member related to the performance of the member's duties; equipment and supplies provided to the member related to the member's duties; and reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses made by the member in accordance with the bylaws or other governing documents of the volunteer fire company or nonprofit emergency medical service agency.
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 6901 et seq.
Establishment. Lehighton Borough hereby establishes a Volunteer Service Credit Program. The goal of the program is to encourage active membership and service in the community's volunteer fire companies and nonprofit emergency medical service agencies serving Lehighton Borough.
Program criteria. The Council shall establish, by resolution, the annual criteria that must be met to qualify for credits under the program based on the following:
The number of emergency response calls to which a volunteer responds.
The level of training and participation in formal training and drills for a volunteer.
The total amount of time expended by a volunteer on administrative and other support services, including, but not limited to, fundraising, facility equipment maintenance, and financial bookkeeping.
The involvement in other events or projects that aid the financial viability, emergency response or operational readiness of a volunteer fire company or a nonprofit emergency medical service agency.
The total number of years the volunteer has served.
Eligible entities. The Volunteer Service Credit Program is available to residents of the Borough who are volunteers of the following volunteer fire departments and nonprofit emergency medical service agencies that provide service to Lehighton Borough:
An active volunteer must meet the minimum criteria, set by resolution under this section, during the eligibility period to qualify for the tax credits established under § 201-41.
For 2018, and each subsequent year thereafter, the eligibility period shall run from January 1 of the preceding year until December 31 of the then-current year.
Recordkeeping. The Chief of each volunteer fire company or the supervisor or chief of the nonprofit emergency medical service agency listed under Subsection C of this section shall keep specific records of each volunteer's activities in a service log to establish credits under the Volunteer Service Credit Program. Service logs shall be subject to review by the Borough Council, the State Fire Commissioner and the State Auditor General. The chief, or supervisor, shall annually transmit to the Borough a notarized eligibility list of all volunteers who have met the minimum criteria for the Volunteer Service Credit Program. The notarized eligibility list shall be transmitted to the Borough no later than November 1 of each year. The chief or supervisor shall post the notarized eligibility list in an accessible area of the volunteer's agency's facilities.
Application. Volunteers who have met the minimum criteria of the Volunteer Service Credit Program shall sign and submit an application for certification to their chief or supervisor. The chief or supervisor shall sign the application if the volunteer has met the minimum criteria of the Volunteer Service Credit Program and forward it to the Borough Secretary. Applications shall not be accepted by the Borough after April 1 of each year.
Municipal review. The Borough Secretary shall review the applications for credit under the Volunteer Service Credit Program and shall cross-reference them with the notarized eligibility list. The Borough Council shall approve all applicants who are on the notarized eligibility list. All applicants approved by the Borough Council shall be issued a tax credit certificate by the Borough Secretary.
Official tax credit register. The Borough shall keep an official tax credit register of all active volunteers who were issued tax certificates. The Borough Secretary shall issue updates, as needed, of the official tax credit register to the following:
An emergency responder who is injured during an emergency call may be eligible for future tax credits. The injury must have occurred while responding to, participating in, or returning from an emergency response call with one of the entities listed under Subsection C of this section.
An injured emergency responder shall provide documentation from a licensed physician with the application required under this section stating that his or her injury prevents him or her from performing duties to qualify as an active volunteer. In such a case, the injured emergency responder shall be deemed an active volunteer for that tax year.
An injured emergency responder shall annually submit the application required under this section, along with uploaded documentation from a licensed physician stating that the injury still exists and prevents him or her from performing duties to qualify as an active volunteer. The injured emergency responder shall only be deemed an active volunteer for a maximum of five consecutive tax years succeeding the date of the injury.
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Lehighton Borough Volunteer Service Credit Program shall be eligible to receive a tax credit up to $200 of the earned income tax levied by the Borough. When an active volunteer's earned income tax liability is less than the amount of the tax credit, the tax credit shall equal the individual's tax liability.
Claim. An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on his or her Borough earned income tax liability when filing a final return for the preceding calendar year with the tax officer for the Borough Tax Collection District.
Rejection of tax credit claim.
The tax officer shall reject a claim for a tax credit if the taxpayer's name is not on the official tax credit register issued by the Borough Secretary.
If the tax officer rejects the claim, the taxpayer shall be notified, in writing, of the decision. The notice shall include the reasons for the rejection and provide the method of appealing the decision pursuant to § 201-43.
Taxpayers shall have 30 days to appeal the decision of the tax officer.
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Lehighton Borough Volunteer Service Credit Program shall be eligible to receive a real property tax credit of 20% up to a maximum of $200 per year of the Borough tax liability on qualified real property. If the tax paid is in the penalty period, the tax credit shall only apply to the base tax year liability.
An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on his or her qualified real property tax liability for the Borough's real estate tax levy. The tax credit shall be administered as a refund by the Borough Treasurer. An active volunteer shall file the following with the Borough Secretary:
A true and correct receipt from the Borough real estate tax collector of the paid Borough real property taxes for the tax year for which the claim is being filed.
The tax credit certificate.
Documentation that the tax paid was for qualified real property as defined in this article.
If the active volunteer provides all documents required, the Borough Treasurer shall issue a tax refund to the active volunteer.
Rejection of the tax credit claim.
The Borough Secretary shall reject the claim for a Borough real property tax credit of the taxpayer fails to provide the documents required under Subsection B(1).
If the Borough Secretary rejects the claim, the taxpayer shall be notified, in writing, of the decision. The notice shall include the reasons for the rejection and provide the method of appealing the decision pursuant to § 201-43.
Taxpayers shall have 30 days to appeal the decision of the Borough Secretary.
A taxpayer shall have 30 days to appeal a decision or rejection of claim.
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision under § 201-42 shall have the right to appeal this decision.
A taxpayer shall have 30 days to appeal a decision or rejection of claim.
In the event that any provision, section, sentence, clause, or part of this article is held to be invalid, such invalidity shall not affect or impair any remaining provision, section, sentence, clause or part of the article, it being the intent of the Borough Council that such remainder shall be and shall remain in full force and effect, and for this purpose, the provisions of this article are hereby declared to be severable.