Tube City Community Media Inc. is seeking freelance writers to help cover city council, news and feature stories in McKeesport, Duquesne, White Oak and the neighboring communities. High school and college students seeking work experience are encouraged to apply; we are willing to work with students who need credit toward class assignments. Please send cover letter, resume, two writing samples and the name of a reference (an employer, supervisor, teacher, etc. -- not a relative) to tubecitytiger@gmail.com.

To place your ad, email tubecitytiger@gmail.com.
Ads start at $1 per day, minimum seven days.

EA Board OK’s Tax Break for Volunteer Firefighters

School board approves scaled-down program; credit reduced to $300

By T.J. Martin
The Tube City Almanac
March 17, 2024
Posted in: East McKeesport News, North Versailles Twp. News, Wilmerding News

(File photo courtesy Fire Department of North Versailles via Facebook)

While not as much as originally proposed, some volunteer firefighters in the five fire departments serving the communities in the East Allegheny School District will receive a real estate tax credit of up to $300.

The East Allegheny School Board voted 5-1 at their monthly meeting earlier this week to approve the program, with Board President John Savinda opposed, Merle “Bud” Pusey and Shannon Basa-Sabol abstaining and Macey Kinard absent.

The proposal will give an annual $300 real estate tax credit to qualifying homeowners who are volunteer firefighters in the five fire departments — Crestas, the Fire Department of North Versailles, Wilmerding, West Wilmerding and United, which serves East McKeesport and Wall — within the district. The proposal places an annual cap of $7,000 on the program.

To qualify, firefighters must meet at least three of five requirements: they must respond to a minimum percentage of the station’s fire calls; they must have at least 16 logged hours of training; they must participate in the department’s fundraising efforts; they must engage in building and equipment maintenance; or they can perform secretarial or bookkeeping duties.

Pusey, who serves as assistant fire chief of the West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Department and who first presented the tax break proposal to the board as a way to help both retain volunteers and recruit new members, said that, while less than the original $3,000 tax credit proposed, given the financial situation of the school district, he saw the $300 tax credit as an “honest gesture” by the board to show the firefighters their appreciation.

Savinda was the lone vote against the measure, citing the district’s $5 million budget deficit. When the board met the next month following a 30-day notification process, apparently some other board members had begun to share his concern.

School board member Daniel Ziober proposed a tax break of $1,000. Board member George Yusko Jr. cited the district’s deficit and said he believes any tax break offered under Act 91 of 2020, the state law which allows for such an exemption, should be offered not by the school district but by the municipalities which comprise the district.

East Allegheny serves students in North Versailles Twp. and East McKeesport, Wall and Wilmerding boroughs.

Yusko said at the February meeting he would be agreeable to a school district tax break program with an overall cap of $25,000.

With these new parameters being offered, board vice president Tisha Thomas proposed that the measure be tabled and referred to the board’s finance committee to come up with a new proposal for the board to vote on. The board agreed unanimously.

Pusey had said in February that 17 current firefighters qualify for the tax relief. He said the program, along with Allegheny County’s recent approval of a $500 tax credit for qualifying volunteer firefighters and those who volunteer to serve nonprofit emergency medical service departments and the fact that North Versailles is working on a tax relief proposal, has led to increased interest among potential volunteers.

Originally published March 17, 2024.

In other news:
"Duquesne Seeks Grants…" || "EA Board, Police Warn…"