VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville school district has passed the state’s Veteran’s Tax Exemption.
At the Monday, Feb. 22, School Board meeting, the board voted to adopt the exemption at the lowest of three levels given. The Alternative Veterans Tax Exemption (AVE) is generally available to wartime veterans who served during eligible periods and has been available through local municipalities since the 1980s, but was only extended to state school districts in 2013.
The average taxpayer will pay an additional $18.71 per year for school taxes and $1.21 per year for library taxes for the 2015-2016 season. Savings for district veterans, based on a $250,000 home assessment, will be $116 for wartime service, $193 for combat service, or a range for disabled veterans of $329 to $327, according to a presentation given by Voorheesville Central School District Superintendent Brian Hunt at the February 12 School Board meeting.
Roughly 270 people, or 10 percent of residents in the district, are now eligible for the exemption. No additional forms need to be filed, unless the veteran chooses not to receive the exemption, as is their prerogative.
“I’m on a fixed income,” said veteran Richard Krumney, of Slingerlands, who spoke on the savings the exemption will provide him. “I’m at the point where I could still live where I’m at, but if these taxes don’t stop, and I don’t get some kind of consideration after serving 13 years, I could lose all I served to have. And I think other veterans feel the same way.”
Indeed, eight more veterans approached the mic with similar views, while two others expressed their views against the bill, saying that these kind of exemptions were not the reason why they chose to serve.
Board members were torn.
“The state is incredibly stupid. This whole process was wrong,” saidSchool Board President Timothy Blow, who was the sole board member to vote against the bill, arguing that the exemption will require the district to re-allocate lost taxes onto residents.
“I support the veterans, I really do,” said Board Member James Coffin, tentatively. “I never served. I lost two close friends in war, I had two uncles that served. My concern is that it will impact the district’s cash. When we give these grants, what happens is that money has to be replaced… My concern is that there are many others in the community who struggle.”
Yet, Coffin, as well as the six remaining board member chose to approve the bill.
According to the state Department of Taxation, veterans are eligible for the exemption if they served in the Persian Gulf conflict, from 1990 to the present; the Vietnam War, from 1961 to 1975; the Korean War, from 1950 to 1955; or World War II, from 1941 to 1946.
The exemption is available per household, and will carry on to the spouse and children of the veteran.
Vetarans are also eligible if they received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a Navy, Marine Corps, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; if they served in World War II in the United States Merchant Marine; if they served as a civilian during World War II in the American Field Service under U. S. Armies and the U.S. Army Groups; or as a flight crew and aviation ground support employee of Pan American Airlines’ contract with the Air Transport Command; or if they are a member of the reserve component of the Armed Forces who received an honorable discharge from active duty, but are still a member of the reserves.
Of the six towns represented in the Vorrheesville Central School District, the towns of New Scotland, Guilderland, Bethlehem, Berne-Knox-Westerlo, and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk had previously adopted resolutions to grant the exemption, but Greenville and the Village of Voorheesville had not.