Board adopts Veterans’ Tax Exemption
At its Feb. 7 meeting the BH-BL Board of Education held a second vote on the Veterans’ Tax Exemption to include the entire board. The exemption passed, 5 to 2, and is scheduled to go into effect for the 2017-18 school year. Resident veterans should contact their local assessor to to learn more about the qualifications to receive the exemption. Applications to receive this exemption should be directed to your local assessor.
Under the Veterans’ Tax Exemption, the tax levy (total amount of taxes) collected from all residents by the school district does not change, but rather causes a shift in taxes. Therefore, veterans applying for the exemptions will have their school taxes lowered, while non-veterans and those veterans not applying for the exemption are estimated to experience an increase of about $16 for a home with a full-market value of $200,000.
The Board also passed a local resolution regarding the support for veterans.
Board members Peter Sawyer, Will Farmer, Jennifer Bradt, Patrick Ziegler and Jennifer Longtin supported the exemption. Board members John Blowers and James Maughan were opposed.
Resolution for the Alternative Veterans’ Tax Exemption
WHEREAS, the BH-BL Board of Education respects and sincerely appreciates veterans for their service to our country, and as a sign of gratitude recognizes veterans through a variety of events such as the high school’s 20-plus year tradition of honoring local veterans and graduates who are currently serving the country at the annual Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day ceremonies; as well as hosting honorary breakfasts at schools throughout the district; holding Flag Day ceremonies; inviting veterans to assemblies and classroom presentations where they share their experiences with students; and encouraging student involvement in local veteran organizations, to name a few; and
WHEREAS, the New York State legislature recently amended state law to create an Alternative Veterans’ Tax Exemption which gives school districts the option to exempt from school tax a portion of the residential property of certain qualifying veterans; and
WHEREAS, unlike certain other tax breaks such as STAR (School Tax Assessment Relief), the state will not reimburse school districts for the taxes local veterans would not pay. Instead, taxpayers who are not veterans would be assessed the difference resulting in unequal tax distribution among our residents, making this truly a local issue; and
WHEREAS, the board realizes there are nearly six percent of BH-BL residents whose income is below the poverty level and many other BH-BL residents who face financial challenges, and therefore will continue to offer the school district’s Senior Citizens and Disabilities exemptions to qualifying residents in addition to the state’s STAR Program exemption; and
WHEREAS, the board conducted an informal community survey to gather feedback about the district offering the Veterans’ Tax Exemption, and the survey numbers reveal there were 170 out of 177 veterans who supported the exemption and 83 out of 199 non-veterans who supported it, suggesting that there is a divide within our community on this issue; and
WHEREAS, the board recognizes that even if the Veterans’ Tax Exemption is adopted at level 1 it would be largely symbolic and would not represent a significant monetary discount for most veterans who are homeowners; and
WHEREAS, for all of reasons listed above, this is a complex issue and one which this collective group of board members, each of whom are entirely supportive of our veterans, can understandably disagree; IT IS HEREBY
RESOLVED, that regardless of the position the district takes on the Veterans’ Tax Exemption, the board will lobby the New York State Legislature to support and pass legislation that addresses issues veterans face including, among other things, that the state meets all current obligations to veterans and provides statewide tax relief for veterans through a state-funded school tax exemption or some other mechanism; and IT IS HEREBY
RESOLVED, that the board encourages the BH-BL administration to seek opportunities to hire veterans who are otherwise qualified for positions within the school district; and lastly IT IS HEREBY
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education encourages the BH-BL administration to continually seek and support opportunities to honor veterans within our schools and to teach our children about the important sacrifices veterans have made to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this nation.