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Bill could affect volunteer firefighters

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 18:53:56-05

Tax incentives for volunteer firefighters could be on the chopping block in this year's legislative session. The state senate will discuss two bills starting in February.

One would either reduce the amount of incentives for volunteers as part of a statewide incentive cut. Another would suspend them for two years altogether.

But for departments like Owens and Company in Vera, that little bit of money goes a long way.

Jonathan Chastee has donated his time there for ten years as he raises two young boys.

“You miss little league games, you miss your time with your family,” said Chastee.

He receives about two hundred dollars a year when he files his taxes. It's a small check in exchange for proper training.

“It helps. Because like he said, you can take your family out for all the stuff you did miss,” said volunteer firefighter Scott Bradley.

That check may not come if state lawmakers suspend it from Oklahoma's budget. With operational grants also facing cuts, Chief Todd Owens says the incentives mean more than ever.

“The volunteers don't receive much other than a lot of thank yous,” said Owens. “You never know, it could be the money the family needs to go buy gas somewhere.”

Chastee hopes lawmakers can reach a compromise, but the possible suspension of funds won't stop him from living his dream and passing along life lessons to his sons.

“They need to grow up and learn that it's good to help others, and not to get paid for it, but to do it out of the kindness of your heart,” said Chastee.

The tax incentives will be discussed in two separate bills this year among the state senate this year. If approved, one of the measures could go into law this summer.