Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 13 March 2014 00:00
The Farmingdale Board of Education unanimously voted to inact a school tax exemption for local military veterans at its March 5 public board meeting, a move which elicited a round of applause from the audience.
School Board Trustee Kathy Lively read aloud the details of the proposal before the Board held its vote, noting that the new law, as laid out by New York State, allows school districts the option of opting in or out of the veteran tax exemptions; in addition, each district, if it chooses to participate, is given latitude in setting the amount of the exemption.
“We elect to participate in the exemptions of real property tax for veterans,” she said. “And we further resolve that the district will adopt the statutory basic maximums for real property tax.”
Assistant Superintendent Paul Defendini spoke about the various tiers that the veteran tax exemption will cover, with each level offering an appropriately higher discount; he said that, given certain circumstances, a vet may qualify for more than one of them.
“There three different sub-categories for tax exemption,” he said. “One is for veterans who served in non-combat zones; the second tier is for veterans who have served in active combat zones; and the third is for disabled veterans.”
In addition, the exemption will also cover Gold Star Parents, or parents of active military personnel who were killed in the line of duty, and veterans who live in cooperatives (“co-ops”), Defendini said.
Superintendent John Lorentz also noted that the district’s budget season was set to begin in full swing come the following week, which will consist of a series of four budget meetings that will have hearings for public input on the budget creation process.
“As we’ve been saying on a number of occasions, we can’t think of any aspect of our business as ‘business as usual.’ The budget discussions, as they always do, will talk about long-term versus short-term...every aspect of our business has changed,” he said. “As we know, we’ve had a lot of challenges as far as our control over our funding resources goes...the budget, which is the blueprint for our instructional programs, currently doesn’t give us a lot of room for flexibility.”
Board President Shari Bardash-Eivers took the time to address the audience about the part they play in helping New York school districts overcome the many financial hurdles placed before them; help that districts like Farmingdale desperately needs to help sustain their current programs and level of education.
“You need to write your legislators, your governor, hold rallies,” she said. “There is something that each of us can do.”
Lorentz also spoke on an awards ceremony held earlier that evening that paid tribute to members of the district’s music program and the impressive degree of recognition they had received over the past year.
“We had 114 students recognized, and they were recognized at the county, state, and national levels,” he said. “That is a huge accomplishment, and it’s something that they should be very proud of.”