Would lower assessed values
Should the Haldane school district offer property tax relief for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers? Should it expand tax relief for low-income seniors?
Those are the questions that the board will consider at its Feb. 27 meeting, when it will likely hold a public hearing, said Superintendent Philip Benante.
The tax breaks can be adopted under state law but tax districts such as municipalities and schools must opt in. The state does not offer reimbursement, so the exemptions shift the tax burden to those who are not eligible.
Under a state law enacted in December 2022, a tax district can exempt 10 percent of the assessed value of property owned by volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers that is used exclusively for residential purposes. The district also can set a minimum eligibility requirement of between two and five years of service, with a lifetime exemption granted after 20 years.
For residents who are 65 or older, state law allows a tax district to provide a 50 percent reduction on assessed value for any senior earning $50,000 or less annually, with a sliding scale that ends with a 5 percent exemption at $58,400.
Haldane offers a 50 percent exemption on assessed value for seniors with annual incomes of $29,000 or less. Its exemption decreases on a sliding scale to 5 percent at $37,400.
According to a presentation at the board’s Tuesday (Feb. 6) meeting by Business Manager Catherine Platt, the district is considering phasing in higher income thresholds over three years. In the first year, the thresholds would be $40,000/$48,400; in the second, $45,000/$53,400; and in the third, $50,000/$58,400.
(The Garrison school district approved the same phased-in approach in February 2023 and a 10 percent exemption for firefighters and ambulance workers in June.)
Benante said the district won’t know the impact of the tax breaks until they’re offered. “Some taxpayers are going to pay a little less and some are going to pay a little more,” he said. “What most districts are doing is adopting the exemptions on a low level and then using that base information of people who apply as part of their decision-making.”
Board members seemed inclined to approve tax relief in some manner. “Many of these ambulance corps need volunteers and it’s a way that the state has built in a decent enough carrot to try to help,” said Trustee Ezra Clementson.
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