Levittown seniors have less than three weeks to take part in the School Tax Relief (STAR) program for 1998-99.
Nassau homeowners must submit their application forms by Dec. 31 for the senior citizen exemption, which starts with the 1998-99 school year. To be eligible, property owners must be at least 65 years old, with incomes that do not exceed $60,000 a year. The program will be extended to all primary-residence homeowners, regardless of age or income, starting with the 1999-2000 year.
At last week's Island Trees Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Richard Segerdahl said that the district currently estimates the annual savings for seniors at $260 next school year, $525 for 1999-2000 and $1,050 for the following years. For all other homeowners, the savings would be $210 in 1999-2000, $420 in 2000-2001 and $630 thereafter.
Those estimates are ballpark figures that will change, the district said. "We have to bill New York State for the money...and then pray," Segerdahl said. "You're going to be talking billions of dollars that the state is going to have to reimburse in some way."
Segerdahl said the potential impact of STAR, combined with the state's support of all-day kindergarten and potential guideline of no more than 20 kids in a classroom, which would mean the district would have to hire extra teachers.
One of the audience members at the school-board meeting asked Segerdahl if the state legislators understood the STAR legislation they were passing. The superintendent responded that it was part of the flurry of bills passed near the end of the summer legislative session. "They really didn't (realize it) at the time this was going on," he said.
This fall, state figures put the savings in Island Trees at $1,860 and $1,120. In the Levittown School District, the state estimated the savings to be $2,070 and $1,240, respectively. In the East Meadow district, the savings is estimated at $1,850 and $1,110, respectively.
The new tax cut cuts school property taxes on a senior homeowner's primary residence. To be eligible, property owners must be 65 years of age or older, with annual incomes of $60,000 or less. For property owned by a husband and wife, only one need be 65 or older. Their combined income, however, must not exceed $65,000.
Applications, which include instructions about the new program, may be obtained by calling the Nassau County Department of Assessment at 571-1500 or by picking them up at the Department of Assessment in the Nassau County Office Building at 240 Old Country Road, Mineola.
The school tax cut will be implemented beginning in October 1998 and will increase on an annual basis thereafter until it is finally fully applied in the year 2002. Another element of the STAR program which cuts school taxes for all homeowners, regardless of their age or income, will be implemented in 1999. Senior citizens whose annual incomes exceed $60,000 will be eligible for this basic STAR exemption.
The STAR exemption is a State-funded program, but the form must be filed with the Nassau County Department of Assessment at 240 Old Country Road in Mineola, 11501. It is the local assessor who has the responsibility for reviewing the application and determining eligibility.