Hearing on veterans’ exemption scheduled for Feb. 3
By Pamela Doan
After a challenging budget process a year ago that nearly led to staff and program cuts, the Haldane Central School District Board of Education is preparing for what appears to be a less contentious and complicated cycle this year.
Although they won’t have an idea about what they can expect from state aid until next week, at their meeting on Jan. 20 they discussed a preliminary rollover budget based on fixed increases to the previous budget. It comes in at less than a 2 percent increase overall.
Two areas that were major expenditures last year have decreased unexpectedly. The New York State Teachers Retirement System and the Employees’ Retirement System are large budget costs that are not under the district’s control. Combined, the increases are less then 8 percent.
Last year the district opted into a program that allowed them to defer costs and spread out their obligation as a way to balance the budget and stay below the tax levy limit. The board is evaluating whether this program, referred to as “smoothing,” is still cost-effective.
The tax levy limit caps a school district to the lesser amount of the cost of inflation or 2 percent. If a district wants to exceed this cap, then more than 60 percent of the voters have to approve it.
The board also approved a calendar for the budget process. They plan to adopt a budget by April 14. Over the next few months, they will be discussing different parts of the budget and program areas, as well as revenue sources. The calendar is available online from a link on the school’s website, haldaneschool.org. There is room for commentary and feedback from the community at each meeting.
The Alternative Veterans’ Exemption, another issue related to school funding, dominated another large part of the board’s discussion. After reviewing the financial impact on other taxpayers, which is about $21 for non-veterans’ homes that are assessed at $200,000, all of the board members present agreed that they are in favor of passing an exemption. As outlined in state law, school boards have a couple of options for the exemption, including putting the issue up for a vote in the district or passing a resolution.
While each board member expressed eagerness to hear community members’ opinions on the matter, they felt that a general vote could be divisive and decided to pass it as a resolution, pending a public hearing. The hearing will be held during their next scheduled meeting on Feb. 3, and everyone is invited to participate.
There are three options for the public to weigh in on — no exemption, a basic exemption or a higher exemption. Philipstown offers a property tax exemption for veterans already. The entire presentation can be viewed on the district’s website prior to the meeting.