Some Niskayuna vets may need to act by March 1 to get tax break

Niskayuna resident and veteran Gary Horton recites the Pledge of Allegiance during the middle of his talk to the Niskayuna School Board on the Alternative Veterans Exemption last month. (Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer)Niskayuna resident and veteran Gary Horton recites the Pledge of Allegiance during the middle of his talk to the Niskayuna School Board on the Alternative Veterans Exemption last month. (Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer)

BY ZACHARY MATSON
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — World War II and Korean War veterans in Niskayuna may need to file paperwork with the town assessor by March 1 to qualify for a tax exemption approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday night.

Most of the town’s eligible veterans — those on the Alternative Veterans Exemption — will automatically receive the school tax break, because they are already in the system and receive an affiliated municipal exemption, town Assessor Amy Houlihan said. The school board voted to extend that break to school taxes as well.

But around 140 veterans in town are on the older Eligible Funds Exemption, which is not automatically tied to the newly-approved school exemption. To be eligible for the new tax exemption, those older veterans need to file an application for the Alternative Veterans Exemption with the assessor by March 1.

Town officials last week sent letters and copies of the exemption application to 140 veterans who receive the eligible funds break before the school board even passed the new exemption, anticipating the short time before the deadline on Tuesday.

“It’s not like these are young veterans,” town Supervisor Joe Landry said. “The school district, in taking such a late vote, has put a lot of pressure on WWII vets, which I think is unfair.”

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. recognized that some in the community were frustrated that the board pushed a final vote so close to the filing deadline but said the district was operating in a “very thorough” manner.

“We did this in a way that will demonstrate how we will make decisions going forward, and how I believe decisions have been made in the past,” he said.

The board approved the exemption on a 6-1 vote. The tax exemption does not affect the district’s overall tax levy, so the breaks are passed on to the rest of the district’s homeowners, amounting to tax increases of between $11 and $26 for a home assessed at $250,000.

In Niskayuna, there are nearly 700 veterans who will automatically qualify for the breaks — which range between $100 and $500 for a home assessed at $250,000. Approximately 380 are non-combat wartime veterans and about 300 are combat veterans, Houlihan said.

Houlihan said that in order to qualify for the tax exemption the WWII and Korean War veterans on the older program needed to at least file the application with her office by March 1; supporting material could be processed later, she said.

The application can be mailed to: Assessor’s Office, One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY, 12309. It can also be delivered directly to the office or dropped in the lockbox there.

Residents in the Niskayuna School District — including some parts of Glenville, Colonie and Clifton Park — who are unsure if they qualify or if they are registered should contact their town’s assessor.

On Thursday, the South Colonie School District is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the tax exemption, the first step in moving to adopt the breaks. The hearing will be at Saddlewood Elementary at 6 p.m.

Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, zmatson@dailygazette.net or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.