PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School Board’s decision to let residents weigh in on a tax break for veterans followed comment at a public hearing on the proposal.
“It’s an important enough issue that I would just ask the board to take its time and make sure that the public’s voice is heard,” city resident David Kerr told the board Thursday night.
Any move that would reduce the tax base and increase the tax rate could be problematic for some people, he noted.
Kerr and city resident Virginia Brady also pointed out that the exemption does not take into consideration the household income of recipients.
“Property taxpayers in Clinton County and the City of Plattsburgh currently assume the cost of property-tax exemptions for veterans at the maximum allowable level,” Brady told the board.
“Unlike all other property-tax exemptions, the proposed entitlement would be granted solely because of veteran status rather than as a result of need.”
In May, district voters will see the exemption on the ballot — while non-binding, the vote will give them an opportunity to say whether they favor giving it and how much it should be.
The state’s counties, cities, towns and villages have had the option of offering the tax break for years, but the allowance extended to school districts through a November 2013 amendment signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In order for the tax breaks to take effect in 2014-15, school boards must authorize them by March 1.
The program classifies veterans as wartime, combat zone and disabled, with disabled veterans eligible for the highest exemption, and wartime, the lowest.
However, the maximum allowable exemption amounts vary depending on the municipality.
The maximum exemption amounts within the City of Plattsburgh for the three categories are $27,000 (wartime), $45,000 (combat) and $90,000 (disabled), while the minimum possible are $6,000, $10,000 and $20,000, respectively.