Nassau County veterans who thought they would see their school taxes reduced in 2014-15 are in for a shock. Though dozens of school boards around the county voted in recent weeks to ease veterans’ tax burdens, the county’s Department of Assessment has postponed enactment of the tax breaks until 2015-16.
Veterans living in New York have for years been eligible for state, county, town and village tax exemptions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation last Dec. 18 giving school boards the option to offer exemptions as well. These exemptions reduce the assessed value of veterans’ homes, lowering their school taxes.
Thirty-eight of Nassau County’s 54 school districts approved veterans’ tax exemptions this year, according to Brian Nevin, a county spokesman.
An April 1 letter signed by Nassau Acting Assessor James Davis, which the Department of Assessment emailed to school district officials around the county, first informed them that there was a Jan. 2 deadline for approving veterans tax exemptions — a deadline that no district met. The letter contradicted an email that the department sent to school officials on Jan. 8, which stated that a school board resolution adopting the exemptions “must be transmitted to the Nassau County Department of Assessment no later than March 15, 2014, to be effective for the 2014-15 school year,” according to a knowledgeable source.
Nevin said that state law mandated that the county use Jan. 2 as the deadline. “The assessor simply complies with state law,” Nevin wrote in an email.
“If we were notified on Dec. 19, we were in on Thursday and Friday and there were no board meetings, and then we were off for two weeks [for winter break],” said Robert Bartels, the Rockville Centre School District assistant superintendent of business. “And the next board meeting was Jan. 8, which is when we were notified. So there really was no time to do anything anyway.”
The law that Cuomo signed did not set a date by which school boards had to act.
In his letter, Davis wrote that the state Department of Taxation and Finance ruled that the county must use the Jan. 2 deadline. But Geoffrey Gloak, a Department of Taxation and Finance spokesman, said this was not true.