School boards: Tax break for veterans best handled at state level


FOR RELEASE: February 24, 2014

CONTACT: Al Marlin
(518) 783-3723 or (518) 527-6933 cell
On Twitter: @nyschoolboards

Nearly seven in 10 school board members (69 percent) who responded to an informal poll by the New York State School Boards Association oppose adopting a proposed “alternative veterans exemption” that would provide a new property tax exemption for some veterans but would require other local taxpayers to make up the difference.

Twenty-one percent support the exemption, while 10 percent were unsure.

“School board members strongly support our veterans, but they believe that reimbursement for the veteran’s exemption should be covered by the state rather than by other local taxpayers,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “The law as is presents school boards with a dilemma. If they adopt the exemption, that would increase taxes for other taxpayers in their district. If they do not adopt the exemption, they could be viewed as not being supportive of veterans.”

More school cuts on the horizon?
An overwhelming majority – 84 percent – of school board members responding to the poll do not believe the state aid allocation in the governor’s budget is enough to allow districts to stay within their tax caps while still maintaining current programs and staff. Fourteen percent of those polled believe the state aid allocation is sufficient, and 3 percent were unsure. Fourteen percent said there are enough funds, while 2 percent were unsure.

“That finding signals more cuts to schools this coming budget cycle,” said Kremer. “Clearly schools need an increase in state aid above the governor’s proposal to stay within the cap without further eroding educational opportunities for students.”

Thumbs Down on Smart Schools Referendum
The poll also found that 57 percent – more than half of those polled – oppose a ballot referendum that would allow the state to borrow $2 billion to enable schools to invest in educational technology, such as high-speed broadband and laptop computers.   Thirty percent support the borrowing initiative and 13 percent were unsure.

“New York’s schools should be equipped with state-of-the-art technology for all students,” said Kremer. “But the funds should be allocated during the regular budget process rather than through long-term borrowing, especially for equipment that will become obsolete long before the bond is paid off.”

Results are based on an informal NYSSBA Pulse Poll of school board members conducted in February 2014. The three-question poll drew between 636 and 645 responses, depending on the question.

 

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