Board divided on offering Veterans’ Tax Exemption

Board divided on offering Veterans’ Tax Exemption

At its Dec. 13 regular meeting, the outcome of the Board of Education’s vote on the NYS Veterans’ Tax Exemption was split with two yes votes, two no votes, and one abstention. Additionally two board members were not present. This resolution did not receive the majority of votes (4) for adoption.

In September, a public forum was held to learn more about the Veterans’ Tax Exemption and what it means for BH-BL residents. In October, the board sought input through a community survey in an effort to learn how the community felt about offering the exemption. The survey results showed that respondents had mixed views. In November, a public hearing about the exemption was also held.

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 would have their school taxes lowered, while non-veterans and those not applying for the exemption would experience an increase. The size of the increase varies based on a property owner’s assessment.

“Although the board of education is divided on the tax exemption, we are in agreement on our sincere appreciation to veterans for their service to our country,” said board President Peter Sawyer, who voted in favor of offering the exemption. “Some board members felt that dividing residents by veteran status may not be the best way to express that support, or in the best long-term interest of the district. The board, however, is in support of the legislation introduced in the state assembly and senate that would have the state fund the Veterans Tax Exemption.”

No action on the resolution was taken because it was neither passed nor rejected. A board motion to reconsider the resolution could be acted upon at a future meeting.

Board members Peter Sawyer and Will Farmer supported the resolution; Jennifer Longtin and James Maughan did not support the resolution; Jennifer Bradt abstained; and John Blowers and Patrick Ziegler were absent.