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County considers volunteer pension plan

January 13, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Washington County Commissioners President Greg Snook said the county likely will decide within the next month whether or not to fund a pension plan for volunteer firefighters and rescue workers.

The Washington County Fire and Rescue Association pitched the plan to commissioners three months ago. Rick Hemphill, a member of an association committee that is studying the issue, said 14 Maryland counties already fund partial pensions called LOSAP - the Length of Service Awards Program.

The proposal would extend benefits to people who have at least 25 years of service. Under the plan, existing volunteers could count up to 15 years of service they have already put in, according to Jay Grimes, the group's president.

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Commissioner Ron Bowers said he is not sure the county can afford that. Bowers said he does favor starting a pension plan for future volunteers or those who recently signed on. At any rate, he said he thinks the decision should be made as part of a comprehensive plan to restructure how the county pays for fire and rescue services.

Snook said a firm hired by the commissioners to study the plan's price tag will probably issue a report in about a month. Until then, he said he will withhold judgment.

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