School districts considering tax exemption for vets


Local school districts are discussing approving a new property tax exemption program for veterans, with more details expected in the coming week.

School boards need to hold a public hearing prior to approving the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption, an exemption law that has been in effect statewide since the 1980s but has only been applied to the county and town’s portion of a veteran’s property tax bill. 

Last year, the state Legislature approved an amendment to the bill to expand the program to school districts, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law in December.

The exemption benefits include up to a 15 percent reduction in assessed value for veterans who served during a time of war and an additional 10 percent reduction for veterans serving in combat zones. Disabled veterans with war-related injuries are also eligible for additional tax reductions.

Riverhead Town Assessor Laverne Tennenberg said 1,975 veterans currently receive exemptions within the Riverhead School District. Of that total, 1,562 currently receive the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption and would automatically receive a reduction in the school portion of their property tax bills for the 2014-15 year if the school district approves the exemption. Another 413 veterans are eligible for some exemptions, but they would need to apply for this particular one by March 1 if the school board approves the program, Ms. Tennenberg said.

Information on the veteran population residing within the Shoreham-Wading River School District wasn’t immediately available.

Once a school district approves the new exemption, non-veteran homeowners will have to make up the loss in revenue for the school district portion of property taxes.

Shoreham Superintendent Steven Cohen said last week he would have more information about the exemption and its tax implications for the rest of the community at the school board’s special meeting set for Tuesday night.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said she would comment after the winter break. The Riverhead school board didn’t discuss the exemption at its meeting last week.

Last week Southold became the first North Fork school district to opt in to the property tax exemption program.

Currently, 542 veterans receive exemptions in the Southold School District. Of that total, 359 currently receive the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption and will now automatically receive a reduction in the school portion of their property tax bills for the 2014-15 year. Another 183 veterans are also eligible for the exemption.

Based on the 359 automatic exemptions, the Southold Town Assessor’s Office estimates the average property tax increase for non-veteran homeowners next year will be $10.31, since the school board approved the minimum standard exemption. That number could increase if any of the other 183 veterans is also granted the exemption.

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