Letters – ‘Really bad idea’ by IW County

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As reported in The Smithfield Times last week (“Isle of Wight tweaks incentives for volunteer firefighters, medics”), our county’s Fire and Rescue Advisory Board requests replacing the volunteer first responder’s car tax relief program with “direct annual payments.”

This is a really bad idea! 

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I do have “standing,” as the lawyers say, in this because, as a volunteer for Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department, I benefit from the current system of tax relief for personal vehicles used by citizens for the work of a volunteer fire/rescue agency. Each year, in recognition and appreciation for me using my personal vehicle for volunteer missions, my fellow county taxpayers show their thanks by not making me pay this tax. It’s not much, but this small gesture says a lot. 

As I understand this recent proposal, the current system of giving property tax relief for a personal vehicle used for the needs of one of our seven volunteer first-response agencies would be replaced by paying the volunteer about $100 each year. And this would, I presume, be taxable by both the commonwealth and the federal government, which, by the way, misspend everything I give them anyway, but that’s a separate issue.

A reason for this proposal seems to be, since we are getting many volunteers from outside the county, and this is a truly wonderful thing, we would not be able to give them tax relief for their vehicle use. The solution here is obvious. These volunteers simply present their “city” vehicle tax bill to our county and receive a check for the amount. Problem solved!

We volunteers serve our fellow citizens out of love, caring and respect. Not for a paycheck!

So with all due respect to one of my personal heroes, Emergency Services Chief Patrick Humphries, who was mentioned in the article, let’s please forget this really bad idea of paying us for something we love to do anyway. And we will probably continue to do even if you think our efforts are worth less than $100 each year.

The small property tax relief on my 15-year-old, red pick-em-up truck is quite enough compensation, and I am proud to continue volunteering for that bit of recognition.


Albert P. Burckard Jr.