Exemption could cause big tax increase for non-veterans

School business manager Kim Brumley shared some of the information she’s gathered so far on the Veteran’s Tax Exemption with the Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education at Wednesday’s meeting.

Since last month’s meeting, Brumley reached out to an attorney the school district had used in the past for property assessment to discuss the terms of the exemption. The exemption is broken up into three tiers based on service. Tier one is for veterans who served during a time of war, tier two for veterans who served in a combat zone, and tier three for veterans who were disabled during wartime.

The reductions had previously been stated in the amounts of $12,000, $20,000, and $40,000 for the respective tiers. Brumley was told that the exemption could be implemented for values as low as $6,000, $10,000, and $20,000. She also learned that the highest possible value for the exemption is $50,000.

She also asked if it was possible for the board to offer an exemption for only certain tiers. For instance, could the board adopt an exemption for the top two tiers, which would be veterans who served in a combat zone and, or veterans who were disabled during wartime. She was told that this was not possible.

Brumley has also been looking at random samples for the lowest, mid-range, and highest property values within both the Town and the City of Amsterdam, as well as the Town of Florida, to examine the impact that the exemption would have on residents.

According to Brumley, in instances where an individual receives tax exemptions from both the local government and the state government, the exemption from the local government is applied first. She said, “What I found on a couple of them that was quite interesting, was that I have a property who presently doesn’t pay any taxes, because they get an exemption and they get an Enhanced STAR and the state picks up that tax for us. Once I apply the [veteran’s] exemption to it, the local government picks up the taxes now and the state doesn’t. So that STAR exemption that that person was getting that was paid by the state no longer is paid by the state.”

Brumley added that she is still trying to determine what the actual figure is for the amount that would no longer be paid for by STAR and would instead be paid for locally.

Board member Nellie Bush said, “We have to be very careful, because when I have people calling me at home, struggling, I have no answer to give them. I think we have to really do our homework, get all of the answers you possibly can get, because as a board, our first priority is the children and the district. You can’t rob from Peter to pay Paul. So we have to really look at this.”

Brumley responded, “I think one of the telling facts, again statistical numbers, is without raising the levee a dime, without spending any more money, you will increase taxes on non-veterans by 21 percent.”

Brumley has not finished collecting data and stated that she still has many questions that she needs to find answers to before presenting a full overview to the board.

Ashley Onyon

Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.