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Township of Unity, PA
Westmoreland County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 2-14-2019 by Ord. No. O-1-2019]
This article shall be known as the "Unity Township Volunteer Service Credit Program Ordinance".
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 listed under § 109-90C who lives within the geopolitical boundaries of the Township of Unity and 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), 53 P.S. § 6924.301 et seq., 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 the entity listed under § 109-90C.
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.
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Unity, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, acting through its elected Board of Supervisors.
UNITY TOWNSHIP VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
Any Volunteer Fire Company operating from a location within the geopolitical boundaries of the Township of Unity, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
VOLUNTEER
A member of a Unity Township Volunteer Fire Company.
A. 
Establishment. The Township hereby establishes a Volunteer Service Credit Program. The goal of the program is to encourage membership and service in the community's volunteer fire companies.
B. 
Program criteria. The Township shall establish, by resolution, the annual criteria that must be met to qualify for credits under the program based on the following:
(1) 
The number of emergency response calls to which a volunteer responds.
(2) 
The level of training and participation in formal training and drills for a volunteer.
(3) 
The total amount of time expended by a volunteer on administrative and other support services, including, but not limited to:
(a) 
Fund-raising.
(b) 
Providing facility or equipment maintenance.
(c) 
Financial bookkeeping.
(4) 
The involvement in other events or projects that aid the financial viability, emergency response or operational readiness of a Volunteer Fire Company.
(5) 
The total number of years the volunteer has served.
C. 
Eligible entities. The Volunteer Service Credit Program is available to residents of the Township who are volunteers of the following volunteer fire companies that provide service to Township and/or the Borough of Youngstown:
(1) 
Any of the Unity Township Volunteer Fire Departments; or
(2) 
The Youngstown Borough Volunteer Fire Company.
D. 
Eligibility period. A volunteer must meet the minimum criteria under this section, during the eligibility period to qualify for the tax credits established under § 109-90.
(1) 
For 2019, the eligibility period under the Volunteer Service Credit Program, shall run from March 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019;
(2) 
For 2020, and each subsequent year thereafter, the eligibility period shall run from January 1 until December 31.
E. 
Recordkeeping. The chief of the volunteer fire company listed under § 109-90C 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 Township, the State Fire Commissioner and the State Auditor General. The chief shall annually transmit to the Township a notarized eligibility list of all volunteers that have met the minimum criteria for the Volunteer Service Credit Program. The notarized eligibility list shall be transmitted to the Township no later than February 1st of each year. The chief shall post the notarized eligibility list in an accessible area of the volunteer agency's facilities.
F. 
Application. Volunteers that have met the minimum criteria of the Volunteer Service Credit Program shall sign and submit an application for certification to their chief. The chief shall sign the application if the volunteer has met the minimum criteria of the Volunteer Service Credit Program, and forward it to the Township Secretary. Applications shall not be accepted by the Township after February 1 of each year. Any false or misleading information given to secure a tax credit or rebate hereunder shall be punishable in accordance with Pennsylvania Law relating to same.
G. 
Municipal review. The Township Secretary shall review the applications for credit under the Volunteer Service Credit Program and shall cross reference them with the notarized eligibility list. The Township Supervisors shall approve all applicants that are on the notarized eligibility list. All applicants approved by Township Supervisors shall be issued a tax credit certificate by the Township Secretary.
H. 
Official tax credit register. The Township shall keep an official Tax Credit Register of all active volunteers that were issued tax credit certificates. The Township shall issue updates, as needed, of the official Tax Credit Register to the following:
(1) 
Township Supervisors;
(2) 
Chief of each Unity Township Volunteer Fire Company;
(3) 
Tax officer for the Westmoreland County Tax Collection District; and
(4) 
The Township Tax Collector.
I. 
Injured volunteers.
(1) 
An emergency responder injured during an emergency response 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 any Unity Township Volunteer Fire Company.
(2) 
An injured emergency responder shall provide documentation from a licensed physician with the application required under § 109-90 stating that their injury prevents them 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.
(3) 
An injured emergency responder shall annually submit the application required under § 109-90, along with updated documentation from a licensed physician stating that the injury still exists and prevents them from qualifying as an active volunteer. The injured emergency responder shall again be deemed an active volunteer for that tax year. An injured emergency responder shall only be deemed an active volunteer for a maximum of five consecutive tax years.
A. 
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Township's Volunteer Service Credit Program shall be eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $250 of the Earned Income Tax levied by the Township. 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.
B. 
Claim. An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on their municipality's earned income tax liability when filing a final return for the preceding calendar year with the tax officer for the Westmoreland County Tax Collection District.
C. 
Rejection of tax credit claim.
(1) 
The tax officer shall reject a claim for a tax credit if the taxpayer is not on the official Tax Credit Register issued by the Township Secretary.
(2) 
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 § 109-93.
(3) 
Taxpayers shall have 30 days from the date of the rejection letter to appeal the decision of the tax officer.
A. 
Tax credit. Each active volunteer who has been certified under the Township's Volunteer Service Credit Program shall be eligible to receive a real property tax credit of 20% of the municipal tax liability on qualified real property. If the tax is paid in the penalty period, the tax credit shall only apply to the base tax year liability.
B. 
Claim.
(1) 
An active volunteer with a tax credit certificate may file a claim for the tax credit on their qualified real property tax liability for the municipality's real estate tax levy. The tax credit shall be administered as a refund by the Township Treasurer. An active volunteer shall file the following with the Township Secretary:
(a) 
A true and correct receipt from the Township's real estate Tax Collector of the paid municipal real property taxes for the tax year which the claim is being filed.
(b) 
The tax credit certificate.
(c) 
Photo identification.
(d) 
Documentation that the tax paid was for qualified real property as defined in this article.
(2) 
If the active volunteer provides all documents required under this subsection, the Township Treasurer shall issue the tax refund to the active volunteer.
C. 
Rejection of the tax credit claim.
(1) 
The Township Secretary shall reject the claim for a municipal real property tax credit if the taxpayer fails to provide the documents required under Subsection B(1).
(2) 
If the Township 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 § 109-93.
(3) 
Taxpayers shall have 30 days from the date of the "rejection notice" to appeal the decision of the Township Secretary.
A. 
Earned income tax credit appeals.
(1) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision under § 109-92 shall have a right to appeal said decision.
(2) 
A taxpayer shall have 30 days from the date the decision was issued to appeal a decision or rejection of their claim. The appeal shall be filed on a form provided by the Township and shall state, with specificity, the reason the Taxpayer believes they are entitled to relief.
(3) 
All appeals shall be heard by the Board of Supervisors of Unity Township. A hearing on any such appeal shall be scheduled before the Supervisors within 45 days from the date the appeal is filed. The taxpayer may request the hearing before the Supervisors be private. Otherwise, the hearing shall be open to the public. In the event the Taxpayer requires additional time to present their case, the Supervisors may schedule an additional hearing or hearings on same.
(4) 
The Taxpayer has a right to be represented by counsel at the hearing. Although no stenographic record is required to be kept, either the Board of Supervisors or the Taxpayer my make a stenographic record of such proceedings at their own cost and expense.
(5) 
The Board of Supervisors shall issue a written decision to the Taxpayer within 45 days of the date of the last hearing on the taxpayer's appeal setting forth the reasons for same.
(6) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision of the Board of Supervisors, shall have the right to appeal same to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County within 30 days of the date the Supervisors' written decision is issued.
(7) 
The Board of Supervisors' prior approval of an eligibility list containing the taxpayer's name shall not be dispositive of the taxpayer's entitlement to the credit at issue when the basis for denial relates to a subsequent contest of the taxpayer's eligibility to receive the credit.
B. 
Real property tax credit appeals.
(1) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision under this section shall have a right to appeal said decision.
(2) 
A taxpayer shall have 30 days from the date the decision was issued to appeal a decision or rejection of their claim. The appeal shall be filed on a form provided by the Township and shall state, with specificity, the reason the taxpayer believes they are entitled to relief.
(3) 
All appeals shall be heard by Unity Township Board of Supervisors. A hearing on any such appeal shall be scheduled before Board within 45 days from the date the appeal is filed. The taxpayer may request the hearing before the Board of Supervisors be private. Otherwise, the hearing shall be open to the public. In the event the taxpayer requires additional time to present their case, the Supervisors may schedule an additional hearing or hearings on same.
(4) 
The taxpayer has a right to be represented by counsel at the hearing. Although no stenographic record is required to be kept, either the Board of Supervisors or the taxpayer my make a stenographic record of such proceedings at their own cost and expense.
(5) 
The Supervisors shall issue a written decision to the taxpayer within 45 days of the date of the last hearing on the taxpayer's appeal setting forth the reasons for same.
(6) 
Any taxpayer aggrieved by a decision of the Supervisors, shall have the right to appeal same to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County within 30 days of the date the Supervisors' written decision is issued.
(7) 
The Supervisors' prior approval of an eligibility list containing the taxpayer's name shall not be dispositive of the taxpayer's entitlement to the rebate at issue when the basis for denial relates to a subsequent contest of the taxpayer's eligibility to receive the rebate.
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 Township 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.
This article shall be effective immediately.