Budget season is nearly here
By Pamela Doan
The Haldane School Board Jan. 6 reviewed the timeline for creating the 2015–16 budget and agreed to finalize it at the Jan. 20 meeting. Due to his father’s death, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delayed his “State of the State” address until Jan. 21 and the board won’t know what the state’s plans for school budgets are until then.
District Superintendent Diana Bowers said that she expects this year’s budget process to be less challenging than last year, when the board nearly had to implement job cuts.
As of 2014, New York school districts have the option to pass one of three exemptions to reduce property taxes for armed forces veterans. Veterans can be excused from a portion of their property taxes, and school districts can determine who is eligible and how much they will excuse.
The Haldane School Board will hear a presentation about exempting veterans from a portion of property taxes at the Jan. 20 meeting from Business Manager Anne Dinio examining the impact. A public hearing is tentatively planned for the Feb. 3 meeting, and then the board will vote on a resolution at the Feb. 24 meeting. The board has to take action by March 1.
On Dec. 17 the Garrison School Board adopted the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption after a public hearing and presentation on the topic. The tiered system allows for wartime veterans to be eligible for a 15 percent exemption up to an allowed amount of $12,000, combat veterans for an additional 10 percent up to $20,000, and another 50 percent for veterans who were disabled. A veteran could qualify for a total 75 percent reduction of up to $40,000.
The district estimates the exemption will only impact other district taxpayers by a minimal amount. An estimate of an additional $15 for a property assessed at $300,000 was used as an example.
School forest lawsuit
According to the minutes of the Dec. 17 Board meeting, Garrison resident Cary Downey, who owns land adjacent to an access road for the Garrison School Forest from Route 403, has attempted to restrict access to it by blocking the road and confronting people going into the forest. Attempts to resolve the issue directly with him have failed, and the board authorized their attorneys to file a lawsuit against Downey.