Protecting the United States has always been a top priority. This job performed by our men and women in the armed forces has become increasingly difficult as foreign military actions become more dangerous. Both physical and mental injuries for our military are becoming more prevalent. New York State lawmakers recently approved legislation which would allow school districts to give real estate tax exemptions to veterans in various categories such as alternative, combat and disabled veterans.
The City of New Rochelle has been considering granting these additional tax reductions for veterans. Passing local legislation would allow veterans in these additional categories to receive tax reductions. Another category of veterans, original eligible funds veterans (Section 458), are on a fixed amount basis for tax reductions and Cold War veterans (Section 458-b) exemptions are similar to those of alternative veterans. According to Howard Rattner, Finance Commissioner, and Donald Whittemore, Assessor, it was "unclear" what would happen if the municipality and the school district went to 50% or if both the City and School District went to l00% of this exemption.
Approximations of the total amount of taxable income that will be reduced by these tax exemptions is estimated at $1.1 million. However if the maximum exemptions are sought, there could be a reduction of $1.9 million in taxable valuation, costing the average homeowner $80 additional in school taxes. However, if both the City and School district adopted the maximum exemptions allowed, the average homeowners' taxes could increase $91.
The New Rochelle City Council took up the potential benefits and placed the needed hearing on their March 11, 2014 agenda. Judging from the City Council members' comments, it is generally believed they are favorable to granting these benefits at l00%.
At the last New Rochelle School Board meeting Ron Tocci, former State Assemblyman and New York State Deputy Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs, acknowledged the great sacrifices made by our now all volunteer armed forces. In our nation of 330 million people, 1.2 million military are serving to protect our country. He continued, this is the first time since the Civil War the country has had a volunteer army. These million service men and women are being asked to perform the impossible task of protecting this nation.
Tocci felt it was "imperative" that we show appreciation for the service these military have given to this country. He already discussed this with: the City Manager, Chuck Strome; the Finance Commissioner, Howard Rattner; and John Quinn, the Assistant Superintendent for Finance in the schools. At this time, Tocci added, veterans are committing suicide at the rate of three per hour. Veterans are dying now at the rate of one every two minutes. He urged the Board of Education members to be kind and show appreciation for these veterans' services to this country.
David Lacher, Board of Education President, felt the Board would hold a hearing and probably vote on this resolution the same night.
This article previously appeared in Soundview Rising, February 21, 2014