Town of Coaldale announces two new Volunteer Firefighter Tax Rebate Programs – the first of their kind in Alberta

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Initiative 1: Property Tax Rebate for Local Businesses

Coaldale, Alberta (January 15, 2020) - On Wednesday, January 15th, at a Coaldale Chamber of Commerce meeting, the Town of Coaldale announced a new Property Tax Rebate program for local businesses who employ, and provide paid release time to volunteer fire fighters who respond to emergency calls while at work – the first of its kind in Alberta.


The primary purpose of this initiative is to recognize and thank local employers who allow their staff to respond to emergencies during work time, recognizing the disruption that daytime emergency response can cause to day to day business operations.


“We understand the great amount of sacrifice that local businesses face as a result of allowing volunteers to leave during daytime work hours,” said Kim Craig, Mayor, Town of Coaldale. “This is our way of thanking those businesses for their sacrifice and commitment to the safety of our community.”


The new Property Tax Rebate program for local businesses will start in early 2020. The new initiative allows for a property tax rebate of up to $2000 per year per business, with rebate amounts indexed according to the number of response hours.


The Property Tax Rebate would be applied to annual property taxes and would be offered to businesses who own a building located within the corporate limits of the Town of Coaldale. The rebate program would also extend to volunteer firefighters who are self-employed business owners in the Town of Coaldale.


“Without the support of our local businesses, we would struggle to have enough responders during the day to respond to emergency calls.” said Kevin McKeown, Fire Chief, Town of Coaldale. “We are excited that Council recognized the importance of this initiative as an incentive for local businesses to continue supporting their staff – our dedicated firefighters – in day time response. We are deeply appreciative of the sacrifices that are made, and hope the number of beneficiaries of this program expands in the future.”


The Coaldale Fire Department currently employs a total of 31 volunteer firefighters. In 2019, the department responded to a record 420 calls over the course of the year.


“We strive to provide the highest level of service that we can to the Town of Coaldale.” said McKeown. “Without the ongoing support of our local businesses, we would not be able to do this.”

 

Initiative 2: Property Tax Incentive for Volunteer Firefighters


At the Regular Council Meeting of January 13, 2020, Coaldale Town Council approved a landmark property tax rebate incentive for volunteer firefighters. While tax credits for volunteer firefighters exist at the federal level, the Town of Coaldale has stepped up to do its part on the municipal side.


“We get taxed from all levels of government. The Federal government rightly provides volunteer firefighters with an annual federal income tax credit. As a Council, we felt it important to be leaders on the municipal side of the “tax coin,” and provide a property tax rebate to our dedicated volunteer firefighters who sacrifice their time to keep our community safe.” said Kim Craig, Mayor, Town of Coaldale.


“We see this as a key step in our volunteer recruitment and retention program,” said Coaldale and District Emergency Services Fire Chief Kevin McKeown.


Under the new framework, Coaldale’s volunteer fire-fighters will receive up to a $1000 a year property tax rebate from their residential tax bill. To be eligible for this initiative, a volunteer firefighter must own and occupy a home in Coaldale. To receive the full property tax rebate, a volunteer firefighter must log in 129 or more hours of service per year. From there, the rebates will be calculated on a sliding scale.

The program will come into effect in early 2020. If the service hours of 2019 are any indication, it is
estimated that the total cost of this program will be about $21,000 in 2020.


According to Chief McKeown, “This is a great way to tip our caps to our dedicated members, and we
couldn’t be more excited to launch this initiative.”


Members of the community who are interested in joining the program are encouraged to visit the Town’s Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment page at: http://bit.ly/35RKhcq