Poll: Shen residents favor tax exemption for veterans

Cady Kuzmich/Gazette Reporter
Frank DeSorbo, the president of the Patriot Flight, and WWII veteran Allan Atwell, addressed Shenendehowa's Board of Education to advocate for a veteran's tax exemption.Cady Kuzmich/Gazette Reporter Frank DeSorbo, the president of the Patriot Flight, and WWII veteran Allan Atwell, addressed Shenendehowa's Board of Education to advocate for a veteran's tax exemption.

CLIFTON PARK — A majority of Shenendehowa Central School district residents who responded to a survey on the subject say they think the district should create a tax exemption for veterans.

Over 65 percent of the 702 respondents voted in favor of the exemption. Just under 35 percent of those who responded were not in favor of the exemption, citing financial hardship or feelings that “it is not appropriate to shift the taxes to non-veteran taxpayers,” according to information presented at the Dec. 20 Board of Education meeting.

Of those residents who responded to the survey, 693 are residents of the district and six are not. [Three didn’t say.]

The benefit to veterans could potentially range from 15 to 50 percent reduction based on qualifying conditions, according to the school district.

Over 27 percent of those who responded are eligible for the exemption while nearly 70 percent were not eligible and less than 4 percent were unsure.

In the three years since the state allowed school districts to start offering veterans tax exemptions, 254 have done so — that amounts to about 41 percent of New York state schools.

That number is slightly lower in the Capital Region — just 35 percent of Capital Region school districts approved the veteran’s tax exemption, including Averill Park, Berne Knox Westerlo, Bethlehem, East Greenbush, Green Island, Guilderland, Mohonasen, Niskayuna, South Colonie, Voorheesville and Wynantskill.

“I’ve read letters to the editor about districts that did not pass the exemption and board members were characterized as disrespectful of veterans,” Shenendehowa school board member Gary DiLallo said at the Dec. 20 meeting. Quite frankly I think that’s pretty unfair. It puts the school district in a difficult position. It’s not a position I think we should be in. I’m upset with state officials for putting us in this position. If they valued what they were saying, they should have funded it.”

“This is still very much a conversation point for the board,” said Shenendehowa Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson.

There may be a public hearing on the issue next month.

“Once you commit to this, you commit to it,” said Robinson.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.