PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh City School District will offer tax exemptions to military veterans beginning in 2015-16.
At Thursday night’s meeting, the School Board voted 5 to 2 in favor of granting the tax breaks at the lowest level.
This will allow exemptions of $6,000 for wartime veterans, with an additional $4,000 for those who fought in a combat zone, and $20,000 total for disabled veterans.
Board President Leisa Boise, Vice President Tracy Rotz and board members Ron Marino, Robert Hall and Steve Krieg voted in favor of the new tax breaks, while board members Clayton Morris and Fred Wachtmeister voted against them.
Board members Dr. David Stone and Amelia Goerlitz were not present.
Just before the vote, Wachtmeister, who said during a session earlier this month that he would vote in favor of the exemptions, stated that he would, in fact, vote “no.”
Morris said that while he initially supported the tax breaks, he, too, had decided to vote against them after speaking with his nephew and father-in-law, who have both served.
His nephew, he said, told him the exemptions were of no use to him, as he would never buy a house. And his father-in-law, Morris noted, stated that he had not gone to war so that his grandchildren could pay a portion of his taxes.
“There are people out there that are vets that deserve this,” Morris said. “They deserve something.
“But this doesn’t get to them. It really doesn’t. And then, it does also put a burden on others.”
Marino also spoke before the vote, saying that he had toyed with the idea of voting against the tax breaks, not to dishonor veterans, but because he would like to see the district offer the exemptions at a higher level.
However, he noted, he decided to support the Level 1 exemptions “because it’s a step.”
Many veterans won’t take advantage of the tax breaks, Marino said, “but there are going to be several that will, and those are the people that can use the help.”
The school conducted a non-binding poll of district voters during the May budget vote, which revealed that 61 percent of the 709 participants were in favor of shifting some of the school’s property-tax levy away from military veterans.
Voters were also asked at which of 11 levels they would support the new tax breaks, with 30 percent opting for the lowest tier.
Meanwhile, 18 percent of participants showed support for the highest exemption level. It allows for tax breaks of $36,000 for wartime, with $24,000 more for combat zone and $120,000 total for the disabled category.
The remaining nine tiers each received between 1 and 9 percent of the votes.
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