Eden Central School District voters may weigh in on the veterans’ property tax exemption in a referendum in November or December.
The Board of Education plans to decide what action to take regarding the exemption in its Sept. 17 meeting. Board members could set a referendum, vote on the exemption or take no action.
District leaders discussed their options Wednesday night in the junior-senior high school’s cafeteria.
“The question is whether the board goes to a nonbinding referendum,” said Superintendent Sandy Anzalone.
If the board schedules a referendum, board members would make the final decision about whether to allow the exemption. The referendum’s result would simply become a factor for board members to ponder.
Vice President Michael Breeden suggested placing the referendum on the Nov. 4 Election Day ballot to draw a large turnout.
Another board member, Colin Campbell, emphasized that the board make choices instead of asking voters to give their input.
“I feel like I’m handing off a hot potato,” he said of a referendum. “We’re elected to make decisions.”
If the question cannot be included on the Election Day ballot, the district could pose the question that day on separate voting machines in a school or schedule it for another day.
Anzalone prefers to avoid using a different polling place on Election Day. She recommended that if there is a referendum, it should be set for Dec. 9 if it is not possible to place it on the Election Day ballot in November.
Scheduling it for Dec. 9, a Tuesday, would not conflict with holidays and she hopes it would give voters enough time to consider the question.
The State Legislature and governor established a partial veterans’ tax exemption for county, city, town and village property taxes, then revised the law in December to include school districts. There is no reimbursement, however, to the districts for lost revenue.
District officials have voiced concerns about the revenue loss if they allow the exemption.
Board members approved a resolution asking the state government to reimburse school districts.
The board also authorized moving 4 percent of the district’s budget, or $1,055,000, into the undesignated, unreserved fund balance, an account set aside in case the district needs it later in the year.