PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh City School District is considering offering a school-tax exemption to military veterans.
Real-property tax law has allowed each of the state’s counties, cities, towns and villages the option of exempting veterans from property taxes for a number of years, but the allowance was only recently given to school districts.
“In the third week of November, the governor signed an amendment, which extended it to apply to school taxes,” City School Associate Superintendent Jay Lebrun told the School Board at a recent meeting.
In order to affect the upcoming year’s school taxes, the board would have to authorize the exemption by March 1.
Lebrun explained that exemptions essentially create a shift in the tax burden.
“These have existed in various forms in this jurisdiction and others for many years on the land-tax side, and effectively ... they remove the burden from one group and redistribute it to an often much larger group,” he said.
City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short told the board at the meeting he had initially thought it might be best to put a proposition before voters during the May budget vote and allow the community to decide whether to offer the exemption.
However, given the March deadline, he noted, it falls on the board to make the decision.
The program classifies veterans as wartime, combat zone and disabled, with disabled veterans eligible for the highest exemption and wartime, the lowest.
“The maximum exemption amounts within the City of Plattsburgh for these three categories are $27,000, $45,000 and $90,000,” Lebrun told Short and the School Board in a memorandum that he also shared with the Press-Republican.
“For the third category, disabled, the ultimate exemption amount is driven by the veteran’s percentage of disability up to the $90,000 maximum limit.”
WOULD ALTER TAX RATE
Under the law, he continued, minimum exemption amounts are $6,000 for wartime, $10,000 for combat zone and $20,000 for disabled veterans.
However, the district may also choose among several other predetermined amounts between the maximum and minimum, Lebrun said.
Based on current assessment data, which will change slightly between now and March 1, he noted, authorizing the maximum exemption would result in an estimated $20,938,246 worth of exempted property, while enacting the minimum figure would result in about $4,648,290.
At the district’s current tax rate of $21.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value, Lebrun continued, the tax shift on the maximum exemption would be about $447,000 and would yield a new tax rate of $21.84 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of about 2.2 percent.
If the board were to authorize the minimum exemption, he said, the tax shift would be about $99,300, yielding a tax rate of $21.46 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of .5 percent.
Of course, Lebrun added, the board could also elect not to authorize any exemption, which would leave the tax rate unchanged, or approve one of the various options in between.
Board member Ronald Marino told meeting attendees he was glad the board was considering the program.
“I think if we can come up with a reasonable exemption for the vets under the guises of the law that it’s a way of giving back to our community, as well as the taxpayers who supported the School District over the years,” he said.
The City School Board will hold its next public session at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, in the Duken Building at 49 Broad St.
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