IN THE NEWS: Staten Island Advance: 2 Staten Island pols propose legislation to give vets stable property tax exemption

Andrew J Lanza

April 12, 2012

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 7:04 PM by Michael Sedon

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Legislation to remedy the fluctuations that serve to diminish veterans' exemption from property taxes has been introduced in Albany.

Under the bills recently introduced by Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island) and state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), the exemption would be tailored more precisely to house values.

The bills are narrowly focused on New York City and have the backing of the City Council, Cusick said.

"Our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend the freedoms this nation enjoys," said Lanza. "When it comes to property taxes for this exceptional group of Americans, our local property tax structure treats them as second-class. In most cases, homeowners receive an exemption that is completely free from property taxes. However, our veterans are only given a partial exemption."

The veterans' tax exemption applies to the portion of property taxes that does not go to education. Last year, $12 billion of the $18 billion generated by the property tax was allocated to education, leaving only $6 billion for the veterans, or a third of their individual property tax bills that they were exempt from.

"Veterans of the Armed Services of our nation have given so much to our community that nothing short of a full, complete exemption would suffice," said Cusick. "We should continue to do all we can to honor their services."

With federal and state cuts to education, the city has been picking up the slack to fund its schools reducing the value of the Veterans Tax Exemption.

"Today, we're introducing state legislation sponsored by Assembly Member Cusick and Senator Lanza to rectify this," said city Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "Unfortunately, the value of a veteran's exemption goes down when city spending on education goes up. So, the more we fund schools, the less veterans get."

More than 64,000 veterans qualified for the exemption in fiscal year 2012.