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Board meetings are typically on Tuesdays, twice per month, in the Board Room at the District Offices (1239 Van Antwerp Road) beginning at 6 p.m. Some meetings are held at schools across the district.

February 24, 2016

School Board adopts Alternative Veterans' Exemption

At its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Board of Education adopted the Alternative Veterans' Exemption at the minimum level, which exempts a portion of eligible veterans’ property values from school taxes based on state law.

The approval followed a public hearing held in January, two presentations on the topic, extensive conversation, and a community survey on the issue.

In municipalities and school districts that offer the exemption, the exempted portion of the tax levy is shifted to other taxpayers, as the state does not provide revenue to offset the savings for veterans.

The state first introduced the Alternative Veterans' Exemption, or AVE, in 1984 when it authorized counties, cities, towns and villages across the state to offer it. In 2013, the law was amended to permit school districts to offer the exemption, leaving the decision up to individual school boards.

At the meeting, Board members stated that although they had a responsibility to make a decision on the issue, they do not believe the state should have put local school Boards in the position of having to choose between supporting veterans and shifting taxes to other residents. Many members called attention to New York State Assembly Bill 966 and Senate Bill 1699, which would require the state to fund this exemption.

If the exemption had been in place for the current year, the shift to non-qualifying taxpayers would have been an estimated $141,000, or 0.26 percent of the tax levy. This equates to a tax bill impact in the range of an additional $11 to $26 for a home assessed at $250,000, depending on the town.

The exemption is generally available only to veterans who served during wartime. The value of the exemption for qualifying veterans varies based on whether they served in combat or if they have a service-connected disability. If the exemption had been in place for the current year, the estimated savings for qualifying veterans across the four towns ranges from $93 to $575.

A breakdown of the tax bill impact both for eligible veterans and non-qualifying homeowners, by town, appears below.

The exemption does not result in a loss of overall tax revenue for the district and will not factor into decisions on the 2016-17 budget in the coming weeks. Rather, the exemption will be accounted for when the district calculates tax rates in August, along with any other changes in assessment levels and the tax levy.

The vote was 6-1 in favor of the exemption, with Board President Pat Lanotte opposed. A veteran herself, Lanotte said she supports tax relief, but ultimately did not believe it was equitable for such a shift to take place at the local level. Board members who voted in favor said that given all of the available information, they believed adopting the exemption was the right thing to do.

Many Board members, including Lanotte, said they believed the state should fund the tax relief, and encouraged veterans to work with state lawmakers on behalf of the pending bill that would require this.

Prior to the vote, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. provided an overview of the exemption and shared the results from the recent survey, in which a majority of the 1,150 responses indicated support for the exemption. He recommended that the Board adopt the exemption at the minimum level based on all of the input received over the last several weeks.

Like other Board members, Dr. Tangorra said that he believed that the 2013 state law that left decision up to local school boards was flawed.

"Yet, given the need to make a decision and all of the information that we have gathered, I believe this is the right decision," Dr. Tangorra said. "It has been a thorough and thoughtful process, and I am pleased that we had such broad participation. Now it is settled, and we will return our full focus to teaching, learning and our students."

 

Impact of Alternative Veterans' Exemption on Tax Bills

If minimum AVE exemption levels had been in place for 2015-16
Town
Impact on a house
assessed at $250,000
   
Niskayuna
$11
   
Glenville
$26
   
Colonie
$17
Clifton Park
$20
   

 

 

Savings for Eligible Veterans

Tax Bill Impact for a Veteran’s House Assessed at $250,000
If Minimum AVE Levels had been in place for 2015-16
Town
Wartime
Combat
Disabled
 
Exemption Amount
$6,000
$10,000
+$20,000*
 
Niskayuna
-$101
-$176
-$363
 
Glenville
-$93
-$173
-$372
Colonie
-$105
-$186
-$389
 
Clifton Park
-$100
-$180
-$380
         
*Disabled exemption savings are added to either the Wartime or Combat exemption, whichever is applicable. For example, a veteran with a Wartime and Disabled exemption in Niskayuna would save $464 total ($101 for Wartime and $363 for Disabled).

Note: Estimated impact varies from 1/26 presentation due to updated information about equalization rates and calculating the exemption.