Sunday, October 11, 2009

Canandaigua, N.Y. —

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors will once again take up the issue of whether to grant Cold War veterans a property-tax exemption. The exemption, which the board voted down last year, will come up for a vote again tonight after a public hearing.

If you go
What Public hearing on whether to enact a local law giving a property-tax exemption to Cold War veterans

When Thursday, Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m.
Where Ontario County Court House, 27 N. Main St., Canandaigua
Details Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to adopt the local law during its meeting following the public hearing

The tax break would apply to an estimated 3,100 veterans in the county, who served in the military between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991.

A conservative estimate indicates there are about 7,800 veterans in the county, said Robin Johnson, director of the county’s Real Property Tax office. Currently, about 4,700 of those veterans receive exemptions for serving during war time, she said.

Cold War veterans would qualify for only one veterans’ exemption, she said, and would not be able to receive both a Cold War exemption and one for serving during war time.
The exemption being considered for Cold War vets is a 10-percent exemption, not to exceed a $4,000 reduction on the veteran’s property assessment. Veterans with disabilities would be eligible for an exemption based on their condition that could be as high as $20,000.
For example, a veteran who is 10-percent disabled could receive a reduction for half that amount, or a 5-percent reduction on their property assessment, said Johnson, though the exemption could not exceed $20,000.

The local law would be on the books for 10 years.

Korean War veteran Ralph Calabrese, who plans to attend the public hearing along with other veterans, said he hopes the board approves the exemption.
“I am feeling I get it and they deserve it, too,” said Calabrese, who receives the existing exemption for serving in the war.

Like wartime veterans, Cold War veterans “wore the uniform and they were willing to give up time with their families” and make other sacrifices, said Calabrese.
Cold War veterans experienced “trauma and stress, just like the rest of us,” he added. The exemption “is a way to say thank you and show it.”

Johnson said the Cold War exemption could reduce the tax base by about $12.4 million, an amount that would have to be made up by other taxpayers.