CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- Community members voiced their support for a series of proposed veterans property tax exemptions at a special Katonah-Lewisboro school board meeting on Monday, Feb. 23.
Former state Assemblyman Robert Castelli, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in Goldens Bridge, offered his wholehearted support. He noted that the financial cost from it will be small and that a lot of local veterans are senior citizens.
“It provides them some small relief," he said.
Castelli then called the proposal a “gesture of honor that welcomes them home and thanks them for their service.”
If the school board approves the proposed exemptions, which are authorized by the state, there would be three types. The first would be for veterans who serve in the military during war time, whose who fall into the former category but also served in combat and those who became disabled during their service.
Under state law, each of the exemptions have several allowable cap amounts that are tied to a property's market value. For the first exemption, the range is $6,000 to $54,000, with a state default of $12,000. The second has a range of $4,000 to $36,000 and an $8,000 state-default level. The third has a range of $20,000 to $180,000 and a default level of $40,000.
The school board must consider which cap levels to adopt. Additionally, the board held hearings on whether to extend exemptions to Gold Star parents, meaning those who lost a child in the line of service, along with making co-operative properties eligible.
Some residents who spoke explicitly voiced support for the maximum level, including Castelli.
Patrick Saultz, a Goldens Bridge resident and Vietnam War veteran, touched upon allowing older veterans to continue living locally, noting that they won't have children going into the school system.
“It may actually be economically feasible if it’s enough to help a vet stay,” he said.
Aimee Hodges, a South Salem resident whose husband is a disabled Vietnam War veteran, voiced thanks for consideration of the proposal when she spoke before board members.
Carmen Delessio, a Pound Ridge resident and commentator regarding issues in the school district, is not a veteran but noted what they have done.
“It’s easy for me to honor these people,” he said.
A survey, which is for getting public feedback on the proposal, remains on the school district's website through the end of the month, according to school board President Marjorie Schiff.
The board will take up the topic again at a meeting in March or April, Schiff added.
Only four of the board's seven members were present at the meeting, which was held during an unusual time of the week. However, Schiff explained that the rest of the board will have an opportunity to review the meeting and feedback from the survey.
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