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STEELTON — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced Tuesday he has released nearly $60 million in aid to support volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania — a nearly $5 million increase over last year.

“State aid provided to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations helps dedicated first responders save lives and protect our communities,” DePasquale said during a visit to the Steelton Fire Department in Dauphin County. “The state funding I am announcing today will help provide life-saving equipment, critical training and insurance for tens of thousands of volunteer firefighters all across the state.”

Under DePasquale’s 2019 state aid distribution, 2,518 municipalities received $59.99 million for distribution to volunteer firefighters’ relief associations (VFRAs). The funding comes from a 2 percent state tax on fire insurance premiums purchased by Pennsylvania residents from out-of-state insurance companies.

“For the first time since I took office, VFRA funding has increased over the previous year,” DePasquale said. “The additional funding is good news to volunteer firefighters who have had to weather some hits in state aid over the past few years.”

In McKean County, VFRA funding grew to $148,718.37, reflecting an increase of $11,026.50 over last year, while Potter County saw a $13,894.93 increase.

McKean County VFRA allocations for 2019 are as follows: Annin Township: $3,322.08, Bradford Township: $20,690.07, Ceres Township: $4,255.23, Corydon Township: $1,382.61, Eldred Borough: $3,062.50, Eldred Township: $6,579.67, Foster Township: $18,664.10, Hamilton Township: $2,656.59, Kane Borough: $13,811.49, Keating Township: $12,556.29, Lafayette Township: $8,700.41, Lewis Run Borough: $2,648.62, Liberty Township: $7,739.30, Mt. Jewett Borough: $3,476.73, Norwich Township: $3,360.73, Otto Township: 6,136.43, Port Allegany Borough: $8,607.80, Sergeant Township: $2,171.06, Smethport Borough: $6,524.84 and Wetmore Township: $8,321.11 for a total of $148,718.37.

Cameron County’s total allocations were $23,669.98, while Elk County received $153,688.69 and Potter County received $87,963.63.

To review detailed 2019 VFRA funding details for all municipalities, visit www.PaAuditor.gov.

The state aid helps to reduce burdens on local taxpayers, according to Eugene Vance, fire chief of the Steelton Fire Department and president of the Steelton VFRA.

DePasquale repeated his call for the General Assembly to consider giving VFRAs greater flexibility to use the state aid they receive in ways that meet specific local needs. Current state law tightly restricts how the money may be spent.

“I want to make sure that the law governing the use of state aid is keeping up with changes in how fire services are provided,” he said.

Act 118 of 2010 governs the overall operation of volunteer firefighter relief associations, which are legally separate from the fire departments they support. State aid provided under the law is intended to solely benefit volunteer firefighters.