Ontario gives vets tax break
Ontario County lawmakers voted Thursday to give a property tax exemption to veterans who served during the Cold War period but did not qualify for exemptions applicable to those who served during times of war. The Board of Supervisors approved the measure by a solid margin. A similar bill had been rejected by lawmakers a year ago.
Under the new law, an estimated 3,100 veterans will typically lower their assessment for county taxes by $4,000.
Ontario County Cold war vets granted tax exemption
Canandaigua, N.Y. — .Cold war veterans in Ontario County have been granted a property-tax exemption.
By a vote of 13-8, the county Board of Supervisors approved the measure at its meeting Thursday. Voting against the exemption were: Wayne Houseman, R-Bristol; David Baker, D-Canandaigua; Rocky LaRocca, D-Geneva; Bill Eddinger, D-Manchester; Frank Duserick, R-Naples; Norm Teed, D-Phelps; Don Marshall, R-Seneca; and Dan Marshall, R-South Bristol.
Votes at the county level follow a “weighted” system under which at least 2,047 votes are needed to pass a majority decision. In the vote at Thursday night’s meeting, 2,598 “yes” votes and 1,494 “no” votes were cast.
Mary Green, D-Hopewell, was one of the 13 supervisors in favor of the exemption.
“I believe we already give exemptions to veterans in general, but that was the one group that never received it, so I’ve always been in favor of it,” she said.
The board first voted down the exemption last year.
A conservative estimate indicates there are about 7,800 veterans in the county, according to 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 able to receive both a Cold War exemption and one for serving during war time.
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 considered 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.
Houseman said while he believes Cold War veterans deserve some recognition for their service, the time is not right for another tax exemption.
“At this time, with the economic situation and the overwhelming burden placed on the property owners, I do not believe it would have been advisable to grant this exemption at this point,” Houseman said.
At last night’s meeting, he said East Bloomfield Supervisor Dorothy Huber “offered a long list of exemptions” that the county already offers. While the Cold War veterans exemption “will only be slight,” Houseman said it could be the “proverbial feather that breaks the back of the taxpayers.”
“I hope my negative feelings are not realized,” he said. “I hope this will not greatly effect the taxpayers.”
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.