SARATOGA SPRINGS – At its Nov. 14 school board meeting, the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution for the Alternative Veterans’ Tax Exemption at Level C and a 10 percent Cold War Veterans’ Tax Exemption at Level C.
According to a statement from Maura Manny, director of community outreach and communication at the school district, “the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption (AVE) was established in 1984 for municipalities…and the Cold War Exemption (CWE) in 2007. Beginning in 2014 (AVE) and in 2016 (CWE), school districts were given the option to adopt these exemptions, which would exempt a portion of an eligible veteran’s assessed property value from real property taxes. The exemptions are only available to veterans who served during a designated time of war, and only applicable to primary residential properties.”
The tax levy (total amount of taxes) collected from all residents does not change but rather causes a shift in taxes, allowing qualifying veterans to apply to have their school taxes lowered. Non-qualifying taxpayers would experience an increase.
According to Lew Benton, a veteran and representative of an ad-hoc group of veterans who have been advocating for this tax break since last summer, members of the veteran community went to the board of education several months ago and asked what exemptions, if any, were offered.
Prior to the school board making their final decision on Nov. 14, the exemption was included on many board-meeting agendas, there was an online survey, and a public hearing was held to gather feedback from the community members.
Benton and his fellow veterans reviewed all of the board meeting minutes, for language suggesting a misunderstanding on the board’s part.
“There was a disconnect between the board about what a veteran really means,” Benton said.
The ad-hoc group then decided to take the board minutes and craft a memo regarding any misconceptions, providing clarification and appended anything that seemed to need highlighting and explanation. The group presented the memo in June to the board.
Following that, more meetings were held and the veterans’ group encouraged the board of education to “review, discuss and put it back on the table to draw a conclusion,” Benton said.
“While this is not the level we sought, it is a first step and will benefit many, particularly those of modest means and younger veterans attempting to become home owners,” said Benton.
Both exemptions will go into effect for the 2018-19 school year budget.