To the editor:
As many community members know, New York State recently enacted a law allowing partial exemption of school property taxes for veterans. The new law was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 18. This bill had passed in the state assembly every two years since 2006, only to fail in the Senate each prior time.
In January the Skaneateles school board learned that rather than being funded statewide, the exemption was to be debated and funded locally, requiring us to shift some amount of school property taxes from our veterans to non-veterans. We learned that a public hearing was required by the end of February if the exemption was to be offered for the coming tax year. Since our school district spans six townships in two counties, all desired information was not immediately available. Board consensus was not to rush local enactment but to consider the new law after full public input later this coming fall.
We on the Board of Education and the rest of the school community are forever grateful for the sacrifices our veterans have made and the lessons which they are still sharing with us. For instance, the entire eighth grade class participates in a veterans’ appreciation luncheon and information program every year around Memorial Day. Skaneateles schools will continue to be a place where students learn about and appreciate the experiences of our veterans.
In the meantime, please rest assured the new law will not be forgotten. This coming fall we plan to hold a public hearing to provide the details of the new law, including the number of people affected and the type and level of financial impact. We will tell you what other school districts are doing. We welcome the thoughts of as many constituents as possible at this hearing.
Thomas E. Lambdin
Skaneateles Board of Education