The Mattituck school board is expected to vote next month on a new tax exemption program for war veterans.
While property tax exemptions for veterans have been in effect statewide since the 1980s, they have until now only been applied to the county and town portions of a veteran’s tax bill. Last year, the state Legislature approved an amendment to expand the program to school districts, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in December.
Four people spoke Thursday during the Mattituck Board of Education’s public hearing on the exemption. Each one, including Mattituck resident Suzanne Connell, asked the school board to provide veterans with tax relief.
“No one does more to protect our freedoms than our service men and women,” she said. “Here on the North Fork, our veterans have done this with unspoken pride. They are the ones that paid the ultimate price for our fundamental freedoms.
“Home is where help is.”
Southold and Shoreham-Wading River are the only local school districts to have adopted the exemption in time for the current fiscal year. In Riverhead, the school board approved an exemption in April and it will go into effect in 2015-16.
Mattituck school officials said in February the Board of Education didn’t have enough information to make a decision in time for the 2014-15 deadline.
Once a school district approves the new exemption, homeowners that don’t qualify for the exemption will see an increase in their school district portion of property taxes.
Following the Mattituck school board’s public hearing Thursday, trustee Laura Jens-Smith proposed the school board consider a “basic maximum” exemption, which is expected to increase property taxes for all other district residents by about $17 annually.
The Southold Town Assessor’s Office has recently estimated Mattituck has 683 veterans living within the district that could qualify for the program.
If Mattituck approves the exemption, it will go into effect for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The school board is also expected to vote on an exemption for Gold Star parents living within the district. The designation is given when a child dies in the line of duty while serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war, according to online state documents.
The Mattituck Board of Education has scheduled to vote on the exemption at its next meeting on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school.