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North Syracuse still debating school tax exemption for veterans

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: North Syracuse still debating school tax exemption for veterans
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School districts across the state will decide if they'll offer school tax exemptions to veterans. As Iris St. Meran reports, North Syracuse says it needs more time and answers before it can decide.

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It’s a discussion happening statewide as school districts review the Alternative Veteran's Exemption. This particular tax break would help veterans with their school taxes. It's a decision that was easy to come to for some districts, but has been a challenge for others like North Syracuse.

"To really understand who qualifies, what the different levels are that are options in the law, as well as the challenge we're still facing which is to be able to calculate what this really means in terms of difference in taxes that would have to be made up," Superintendent of Schools Annette Speech said.

That difference would have to be made up by taxpayers who are not veterans. Wednesday the district held an information session presented by partners with law firm Bond, Schoeneck and King. One partner said the exact financial impact depends on several variables including STAR exemptions, but those who don't qualify would see a tax increase.

"We estimate that on an average individuals within the district would pay about $60 to $80 more per year for that non-exempt property, where the taxes on an average house might go down for the veteran $400 to $500," said Rebecca Speno, a partner at Bond, Schoeneck & King.

There are currently 2,800 veterans in the North Syracuse District who are taking advantage of the 458-a tax exemption. Robert Fleming will medically retire from the Army in a few weeks.

He lives in the district and says this will be a tough decision. Fleming says he understands both sides and doesn't want to put the burden on his neighbors, but also feels an exemption would certainly help a lot of veterans.

"Unfortunately right now my taxes are almost as much as my mortgage is, so it would help me a lot. It would help a lot of other veterans because a lot of the veterans we have in this community are senior citizens, are disabled, are on fixed incomes," Felming said.

The district isn't prepared to make a decision anytime soon. The earliest could be around this same time next year.

In order for this to have an impact on the next school year, districts have to vote on it by March 1. To learn more, the North Syracuse District will post its presentation on its website: www.nscsd.org

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