Written by Jill Nossa Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove Board of Education passed the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption for taxes following last week’s public hearing at Robert M. Finley Middle School, to the appreciation of the veterans in attendance.
Several dozen vets arrived promptly at 6 p.m. at the middle school to express their support for the tax exemption. Many noted that they get tax breaks from the city and county, but are still left with the ever-growing school tax bill.
“We’re having a hard time with our taxes, especially the school tax,” said the first veteran to speak.
“The largest tax is the school tax,” said Don Albin, noting he is a 100 percent disabled veteran who is retired and wondering whether to stay in Glen Cove or move in a few years. “All of my grandchildren are here, I don’t want to move down south. It’s not fair that
I don’t get anything taken off the school tax bill.”
Theresa Hollowell, whose husband is a Vietnam veteran with health problems, said, “He has given a great deal for his country. This is very little that you can give back...these are our heroes and we should honor, respect and help them.”
A similar exemption already exists at the county level, but the state left individual school districts to decide if it would be in the best interest of the taxpaying community. The law passed in December and gave most districts until March 15 to hold a public hearing and decide whether or not it would provide the exemption; however, since Glen Cove is a city school district, Superintendent Rianna explained, it was given an extension. Also, she said, they had more questions that needed answering before moving forward.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria Galante explained that the special exemption provides three tiers of tax breaks for vets based on whether or not they saw combat or suffered a disability. According to Galante, a total of 691 veterans live in Glen Cove that could potentially be eligible for the exemption. She said 400 are now taking the alternative tax exemption and these people do not need to reapply; 290 veterans have an eligible funds exemption, who would need to reapply. All veterans will be contacted by the City of Glen Cove with details and have until Dec. 31 to apply. The exemption will be applied to the 2015-16 school tax.
Galante said that if all eligible veterans take the exemption, the impact will be about $116 per year per household. She had previously reported the highest number to be $121. If only the 400 vets who currently take the alternative tax exemption continue to take it, the impact will be about $58 per year per household.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal for someone to pay $121 a year...I shed my blood...I think we deserve a bit of a break,” said Sam Esposito.
Anthony Jimenez noted that one reason the exemption is of necessity for veterans is because of the time they invested in the service, “when other people entered the job market and found their niche...there’s catching up to do.”
Rick Smith was one of only two people who spoke out against the exemption. “I first of all express thanks to all veterans,” he said. “It seems to me like a scheme cooked up by the governor to get votes...whether you pass it or not, it’s a bad law. The federal government should take care of the vets not the school district...people should be honored with a lot more than what this is, and have across the board discounts, not different tiers. This won’t be fair to all who apply.”
Resident Jan Warner noted, “Vets deserve equal levels of discounts...only homeowners benefit...each vet increases the school budget. Vote no in protest.”
The way the law stands, disabled veterans are entitled to the largest discount of 25 percent, while veterans who saw combat receive a 15 percent discount and non-combat veterans receive a 10 percent discount.
All six trustees who were present voted in favor of the exemption; Trustee Maureen Pappachristou was absent due to illness.
“You guys are entitled to everything we could possibly give you,” said Trustee Dave Huggins.
“Everything I have is because of you,” said Trustee Richard Maccarone. “All vets are welcome here in Glen Cove, anything we can do, you deserve.”
“I’m a believer that whatever I say or do is because of you...I believe that you are the best that America has,” said Trustee Grady Farnan.
“It’s an honor to approve the exemption in Glen Cove,” said Board President Donna Brady.
More information is available at the district’s website www.glencove.k12.ny.us.