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Smithtown schools weighing tax breaks for veterans

The Smithtown Central School District will schedule a public hearing in the fall on tax breaks for military veterans.

Assessments needed to calculate the impact of Alternative Veterans and Cold War partial property tax exemptions will be ready by mid- to late September, said Andrew Tobin, assistant superintendent for business and operations.

The board of education approved the move at a recent meeting with support from trustees Gladys Waldron and Daniel Lynch. “We’ll take another look,” president Christopher Alcure said.
St. James Civic Association president Kerry Maher Weisse pressed for faster action and suggested a retroactive tax credit for the district’s roughly 1,400 veterans, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s.

The exemptions would shift the tax burden from veteran to non-veteran households in the district. In Smithtown, home to 6,378 veterans overall, according to the town assessor’s office, every school district besides Smithtown Central offers the Alternative Veterans Exemption. Kings Park, Hauppauge, Three Village and Commack offer the Cold War exemption.

The board of education rejected an Alternative Veterans Exemption in 2014 on a 5-2 vote. Many Long Island school districts initially resisted the tax breaks, but close to 100 of the region’s 124 districts now have at least one version in place.

Smithtown Superintendent James Grossane earlier this month released a statement saying that the board is “very concerned regarding the increased tax burden this exemption would cause to the non-
veteran taxpayer.”

In 2014, district officials estimated the Alternative Veterans Exemption would have erased about $269,000 in assessed value across the district. The maximum exemption would have cost non-veteran households about $88.50. The typical district tax bill is $9,330.

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