ANNAPOLIS, MD—The Maryland House of Delegates has unanimously passed Delegate Ryan Nawrocki’s bill, HB 1096, to provide much-needed property tax relief to Baltimore County volunteer fire and rescue stations. Currently, volunteer stations pay property taxes on some lands they own for firehouse operations and training. The bill is now going to the Senate, where it is expected to pass next week.
Delegate Nawrocki, a local volunteer fire department member who sponsored the bill, says, “I have seen firsthand how important it is to support the safety of our communities. First responders need our full and committed support. This bill reduces their budgets by granting a property tax cut on the land owned by volunteer fire companies and rescue squads.”
“Additional properties eligible for a property tax cut include former locations of firehouses, prospective future firehouse sites, and land used for other fire and rescue training,” said Delegate Kathy Szeliga, a bill’s cosponsor.
HB 1096 is Del. Nawrocki’s first bill introduced in Annapolis since being elected to represent District 7A of Baltimore County. During the hearings leading up to this successful vote many supported the bill, including the President of the Baltimore Volunteer Firefighters Association and the leadership of Middle River, Bowleys Quarters, Long Green, and Upperco Volunteer Stations. The bill also received unanimous support from the Baltimore County Council, the County Executive, and all Baltimore County House Delegation members.
A volunteer station, on average, costs 5% of a typical career station in Baltimore County – $252,000 vs. $4.4 million. This legislation is critical to acknowledge the cost-savings that the 29 volunteer companies offer to Baltimore County as a whole. Fire companies are hoping to invest in future firehouses or just be able to maintain their fleets when needed. These first responders should not be fundraising to pay for property taxes.
Instead, fundraising should pay for new equipment, gear, or improvements to the station; the types of budget line items on the expense sheet that benefit the citizens of Baltimore County – the tools necessary to engage in life-saving activities.
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