|UPDATE: Perkiomen Valley School District Moves to Revoke Real-Estate Tax Exemption of the Skippack Fire Company|
|November 7, 2020|
The Chief, President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Skippack Fire Company met with the Perkiomen Valley School District Superintendent and several School Board and District members over a week ago at our station. This meeting allowed our administrators and that of the school district to share their thoughts and beliefs around the pending PVSD suit. SFC members shared facts around our "all volunteer" fire company and how the company conducts our day to day business protecting the lives and property of not only those in Skippack Township, but on mutual aid agreements to every fire company within the Perkiomen Valley School District on structure fire assignments and other requested dispatches.
We shared how our members are able to focus on responding to calls for service and training because of our rental properties. We do not need to take time away from training, our families and other events because of we are doing multiple other fundraising events to support the fire company and the day to day needs of running the organization. We have not needed to ask Skippack Township for an increase in the fire tax to support the fire company and day to day needs of running the organization either. Bottom line, there is no way the fire company could ever conduct enough chicken dinners, hoagie sales or other fundraisers to support our organization the way our rentals enable us to.
In 2020, to date SFC volunteers have responded to over 215 calls for service with an in-service time on scene of over 2,200 hours and trained for over 3,000 hours. These numbers do not include administrative, fire line and committee efforts, equipment and station maintenance and getting ready for the next call upon returning from each call for service.
We appreciated the opportunity to meet with the PVSD team. In the meeting with the PVSD members we asked them to please abandon once and for all this suit, so we can each get back to what we do best...keeping our communities safe and educating our children and leaders of tomorrow.
To that end, we have not heard back from the PVSD that this suit has been dropped. The district has a school board meeting on Monday at 6:30 PM via Zoom. The link is below. Thank you for your support and emails to PVSD (firstname.lastname@example.org) to date. Please continue to let them know you support the Skippack Fire Company. You can find the complete original account of this suit filed by PVSD below the Zoom info.
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
October 23, 2020
Perkiomen Valley School District Moves to Revoke Real-Estate Tax Exemption of the Skippack Fire Company
The Pennsylvania Legislature enacted a LAW that exempts “all fire and rescue stations which are founded, endowed and maintained by public or private charity, together with the grounds annexed and necessary for the occupancy and use of the fire and rescue stations, and social halls and grounds owned and occupied by fire and rescue stations and used on a regular basis for activities which contribute to the support of fire and rescue stations, as long as the net receipts from the activities are used solely for the charitable purposes of the fire and rescue stations” from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor, county institution district and school real estate taxes. 53 Pa.C.S. § 8812(15).
The Perkiomen Valley School District has appealed the Montgomery County Board of Assessment Appeals and the Skippack Fire Company in regard to Parcel No. 51-00-00256-00-8 owned by the Skippack Fire Company. The Board of the Perkiomen Valley School District is attempting to revoke the real-estate tax exemption of the Skippack Fire Company and seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Fire Company.
The Skippack Fire Company, in existence since 1899, is a 100% volunteer organization which provides primary fire and rescue protection to the residents and businesses of Skippack Township and those visiting and traveling through the township.
The parcel also provides a home to the Skippack Fire Company Training Facility. The training grounds are highlighted by a multi-story fire burn tower, which allows fire companies to practice fire attack, hose line advancement, ventilation, and more, just seconds from our station. The training grounds also allow for training evolutions, including but not limited to vehicle rescue, search and rescue, landing zone set-up, firefighter safety, and rapid intervention scenarios. The Skippack Fire Company holds training sessions every Thursday evening throughout the year. The Skippack Fire Company also makes the Skippack Fire Company Training Facility available to other fire companies throughout the county to train their members to be ready for the next alarm. This property is also used throughout the year for fire prevention efforts, including the annual Skippack Fire Company Fire Prevention Open House.
The parcel also provides a source of income to the Skippack Fire Company through three rental spaces (two currently occupied). As mentioned above, the Skippack Fire Company is all volunteer and none of rent collected inures to the benefit of any member of the Company. Like most volunteer fire companies throughout Pennsylvania, the Skippack Fire Company is not able to function solely on the township fire tax, fund drive or secured grant monies. Although we are appreciative of these sources of income, in order to provide the level of fire protection you deserve as well as the safety and training our members do, we converted a portion of the stated parcel to rentals a number of years ago. These rentals keep Skippack Township’s fire tax lower than many surrounding townships, since the Skippack Fire Company has not needed to approach the township requesting a higher tax rate. The use of the stated parcel outlined above has not changed since the tax exemption was instated, years ago.
The Perkiomen Valley School District Claim on the Appeal
The Perkiomen Valley School District stated, under penalty of perjury, in their appeal, that “the [Skippack Fire Company] do[es] not advance a charitable purpose.” The School Board went on to state falsely that the Skippack Fire Company “do[es] not donate or render gratuitously, a substantial portion of its services... do[es] not relieve the government of any burden... do[es] not operate entirely free from private profit motive...” and “do[es] not qualify as a purely public charity.” Furthermore, the Board went on to state incorrectly that the property, “is not utilized for any of the so-called charitable purposes advanced by the organization,” and “The so-called charitable services provided by the organization are not provided at the subject property.” PVSD is seeking more than $300,000.00 from the Fire Company which will negatively impact Fire Protection for all who are served by the Skippack Fire Company.
Skippack Fire Company Defense
The Skippack Fire Company and our mutual aid partners provide services to all the townships and boroughs that make up the Perkiomen Valley School District, helping to protect ALL the students, facility, staff, administrators, schools and administrative buildings within the district.
The Skippack Fire Company is vigorously defending our organization based on the current exemption awarded by the Board of Assessment Appeals of Montgomery County. The Fire Company continues to be in compliance with Pennsylvania Title 53, Chapter 88, section 8803 granting the Fire Company property an exemption from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor, county institution district and school real estate taxes. The Skippack Fire Company believes that the Perkiomen Valley School District’s attempt to revoke this exemption not only affects the Skippack Fire Company but the safety and well-being of our township, our residents and visitors, mutual aid partners and communities, and the volunteer firefighters that make up the Skippack Fire Company.
We ask for your support by notifying the Board of the Perkiomen Valley School District and voicing your opinion for the unfortunate decision made by the Board. Contact information is available on the PVSD website www.pvsd.org/school-board
For more information on the Skippack Fire Company visit us at www.skippackfire.com or on Facebook @skippackfire.
Press Contacts for the Skippack Fire Company:
Chief Haydn Marriott
President Keith Grierson