LATHAM—Officials in the North Colonie Central School District (NCCSD) have, for several weeks, been considering the possibility of offering local veterans a partial property tax exemption that just became available to school district residents in New York state. South Colonie just voted to extend the tax break to their resident veterans and many other local school districts have taken action to do the same, but the exemption would raise property taxes throughout the rest of North Colonie and officials have decided to poll residents in an effort to “come to a mindful, informed decision.”
Offered to other local municipalities since the mid-80s, the Alternative Veterans Tax Exemption was extended to school districts in 2013 and is generally available to wartime veterans who served during eligible dates. Generally, at least part of the veteran’s service must fall within one of the following defined periods of war: Persian Gulf Conflict; Vietnam War; Korean War; and World War II. (Reservists who engaged only in active duty for training or who were activated for only short periods of time are typically not eligible for the alternative exemption. However, reservists who were activated during a period of war and who performed significant, full-time active duty may qualify.) Veterans may also qualify for the exemption under certain other conditions, such as those who served with the Merchant Marines, American Field Service or Pan American World Airways during World War II.
The state does not provide offsetting revenue to those districts that enact the exemption, so there would be some necessary redistribution of taxes among existing district property owners. According to NCCSD officials, the AVE would have cost remaining taxpayers an additional $9.57 for the last fiscal school year on a $150,000 home.
Under the exemption, veterans will receive reductions based on when and where they served—‘wartime’ veterans receive the lowest reduction, ‘combat zone’ veterans receive slightly more, and ‘disabled’ veterans receive a significant break on taxable property values. Disabled veterans who served in combat zones or during wartime are able to combine their disability benefit with the other benefits. According to New York State, the minimum AVE reduction a school district can set is $6,000, $10,000 and $20,000, under which eligible veteran homeowners in North Colonie for the current year would have saved anywhere from $102 to $441.
The AVE is only available to qualifying residential real property owned by honorably discharged veterans (or certain family members) who “served during defined periods of war or under certain conditions.” The veteran must attach proof to the application form verifying the dates and character of service; additional proof is necessary to justify approval of the combat zone and/or the disability portion of the alternative exemption.
The NCCSD Board of Education, in an effort to gather community opinion, will introduce an exit poll at this year’s annual budget vote on May 17. The results of the poll will give the board the information they need to further discuss potential implementation of the tax exemption in the 2017-18 school year.