Monday, October 13, 2008




Canandaigua, N.Y. -

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors could vote as early as Oct. 23 whether to give a property tax exemption to Cold War veterans.

The Cold War Veteran Exemption Law, enacted in August 2007, gives municipalities the option of providing exemptions for those who served between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991, and were discharged or released under honorable conditions.

If the resolution passes, the county can chose between two exemption levels: 10 percent of the assessed value with a maximum of an $8,000 exemption or 15 percent with a maximum of $12,000. It would be available to Cold War vets who do not receive either of the county’s other two tax exemptions for veterans, the Alternative Veteran Exemption or the Eligible Funds Veteran Exemption.

For example, if the county were to choose the 10 percent/$8,000 exemption level, a veteran with a $150,000 home would pay taxes on $142,000. At a county tax rate of $6.36 per $1,000, the exemption reduces the bill from $954 to $903. At the 15 percent level, the tax bill would drop to $878.

Canandaigua City Supervisor David Baker had doubts about the proposal.

“I think there reaches a point when we need to stop doing exemptions just because it’s the nice thing to do,” he said.

A similar resolution had been on the agenda of the Oct. 2 board meeting, but it was laid over, partly due to the wording. It wasn’t actually a resolution to adopt the exemption; it was a resolution to discuss the exemption.

Baker said he would have voted against that resolution.

“The idea that we have to pass the resolution that says we’ll talk about it is meaningless,” Baker said. “That’s what we have the committee structure for. I intended to vote against the resolution because we either take action or we don’t.”

Other supervisors wanted to know the effect of the proposal, given that tax breaks to one group must be made up by all other taxpayers.

“We know that there are approximately 8,700 veterans that live in the county, and we know that there are over 4,700 who currently have veteran exemption benefits,” said Robin Johnson, director of the county’s Real Property Tax Agency.

Johnson said she doesn’t know how many of the almost 4,000 veterans not receiving tax breaks would qualify for the Cold War exemption.

The exemption would only lower veterans’ county taxes. Town, school or any other tax bills would remain the same.

The Oct. 23 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Ontario County Court House.

Contact Alex Bauer at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 255, or at abauer@messengerpostmedia.com.