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Skaneateles CSD defers decision on veteran’s tax exemptions

Dale Bates (left) shakes the hand of Michael Card (right) following Card’s speech thanking Bates for his service to the district before he retires.

Dale Bates (left) shakes the hand of Michael Card (right) following Card’s speech thanking Bates for his service to the district before he retires. Photo by Joe Genco.

The Skaneateles School District will not adopt property tax exemptions for veterans this year.

Assistant Superintendent of Business of Finance Dale Bates said he did not feel comfortable making a recommendation on the exemptions, at the school board’s Feb. 11 meeting.

With a March 1 deadline to enroll in the new program, passed by the state legislature in December 2013, the district does not have enough time to gather all the information it needs, hold a public hearing to get input from the community and make an educated decision on the exemptions, Bates said.

“We want the board to have a chance to make an informed decision,” Bates said. “This is too fast to move.”

If the district were to offer the exemptions and every eligible veteran enrolled, the annual property taxes for a house in the district valued at $275,000 would increase by $47. However, the district has the option to adopt lower levels of exemptions which would have a lesser impact on the tax rate.

These options will be explored in the future, he said.

Early details on budget, referendums

Though the district is not ready to release its preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year, Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel said that the district will not have to lay off any full-time staff to balance the budget. Bates said that if the district were to replace all the retiring teachers, it would still see a $300,000 decrease in expenses.

The tax cap for the district this year will be about 1.3 percent, though in their current projections the district needs to raise the levy about 2 percent, which would require a 60 percent supermajority approval, or find ways to reduce expenses, Bates said.

The retiring teachers include: Michael Baier, Richard Cangemi, M.J. May, Susan Pingel, John Quijano, John Smolenski, Dannie Taylor and Linda Torrey.

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