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NY hides behind veterans to reduce local school tax reimbursement

Posted 25 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Editor:

In regards to the veterans’ exemption for school taxes (click here), shame on the NYS Department of Veterans Affairs Director, the Governor, and our local representatives for allowing this to happen. (Click here to see “Medina schools leaning towards tax exemption for veterans.”)

When we elect our representatives to office we expect them to have moral courage among other things. This NYS legislation demonstrates a lack of moral courage on the part of our elected officials in Albany by shifting the burden of decision-making and funding on this issue to local officials and community members.

As prior military, disabled and a veteran, I, by NYS definition, qualify for this benefit. However, how can I in good conscience accept it? Besides, the reduction in school tax is most likely offset by a rise in fees in other areas – so it’s a shell game in my opinion. My point, and the intent of this letter, is to put the spotlight on the weak-minded decision-making on this particular issue that did not consider the impact of decisions at the local level.

It is further dividing communities and is further driving a wedge between the voters and all veterans. Remember, approximately 0.45 percent of population served post 9/11 that is “damn few” as we know it in veteran circles. In this case, the tax relief being directed by NYS law puts pressure on local communities to provide an unfunded (non state reimbursed and designed to reduce current state funded school STAR credits) tax break to gold star survivors, combat, and disabled vets.

To use veterans and gold star survivors as a method to lessen the reimbursement of STAR tax credits to schools is a flat out disgrace. The winner is NYS – not the veterans nor gold star survivors nor even non-veterans. This is shameful, cowardly, and just plain weak can’t the NYS Veteran’s Affairs Committee find ways to trim the NYS budget to fund this? Why the shell game to reduce school tax reimbursables to school districts?

Why hide behind veterans? If my neighbors are saddled with deciding on this tax break for me without the prospect of a break for themselves then I’d have to decline it. Again, the burden of shame belongs with the director of the NYS Department of Veteran Affairs, the NYS Veteran Affairs Committee, our assemblymen and women, our senators, and our governor.

I can only speak for myself and say that I will again shoulder my share of the task 100 percent and then some. So, how about this: increase my school taxes to help fund rising NYS education costs by the percentage of my disability etc. The greater cynic would ask, “Why trim waste when you can set veterans benefits in conflict with voters, force local districts into an ethical quandary, and then benefit either way the decision is made?” This is a disturbing trend that is trickling down from other federal efforts.

The director of NYS Veterans Affairs and the NYS Veterans Affairs Committee should have looked deeper with regard to the social impact of this law on local school districts.

Regards,

Steve Bunch
Medina