Vote yes for Fire, EMS loan program
This year’s primary election will feature several ballot questions for your consideration.
A number of potential voters that I have spoken with recently find these questions ambiguous and difficult to understand.
In some instances that may be the case, but to me one ballot question stands out and clearly needs the support of all Pennsylvania voters.
That question is the statewide referendum on Act 2020-91 making municipal fire and EMS departments eligible for low interest loans.
The General Assembly established the Volunteer Companies Loan Fund on July 15, 1976, with Act 208.
The Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP) provides loans at a fixed 2% interest rate to volunteer fire, ambulance, and rescue companies for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or improvement of apparatus, facilities, and equipment.
Since its inception, the program has approved more than $489 million in loans for the commonwealth’s volunteer emergency services community.
The loan fund is solvent, and every year enjoys significant surplus. The current balance is $47 million.
The loans are paid back with interest.
Approval of this ballot question would not increase the indebtedness of the commonwealth or the loan fund. It would not increase taxes or fees on any state resident.
It would simply allow career and combination fire and EMS agencies to borrow from an already established, well organized loan program.
I join with fire and EMS leaders from across Pennsylvania and ask you to vote Yes to approve the referendum on Act 2020-91.
(The writer serves on the board of directors at the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Safety Institute.)