District to consider tax exemptions for first responders, senior citizens and veterans

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District is exploring the possibility of offering three separate property tax exemptions for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers, senior citizens, and veterans.

In recent years, under New York State law, allowable exemptions that can be applied to school property tax bills have been expanded. A district’s board of education can elect to adopt these exemptions individually.

School districts are allowed to offer a 10% reduction in assessed value for properties owned by an enrolled and certified member of an incorporated volunteer fire company, fire department or ambulance service with at least two years of service.

The exemption for senior citizens applies to individuals who are 65 years of age or older and meet income limitation requirements, as established by NYS, which correlate to an exemption percentage.

Subject to maximum levels of exemption set by the taxing jurisdiction, school districts are allowed to offer a 15% reduction in assessed value for veterans who served during a time of war, plus an additional 10% for those who served in combat zones. Veterans could also receive a reduction based on their service-connected disabilities. 

Unlike universal tax breaks such as School Tax Assessment Relief (STAR), the state does not reimburse school districts for the taxes first responders, senior citizens and veterans don’t pay. Instead, it causes a redistribution of taxes among taxpayers, or a tax shift. Exemptions do not affect the total amount of money a district needs to raise – the tax levy. Therefore, adopting an exemption could raise the tax bill for the remaining tax base in order to make up the difference.

At the F-M Board of Education meeting Nov. 6, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Brad Corbin presented the estimated financial impact on district residents if the exemptions were to be adopted.

As a next step, the board will hold a public hearing during its regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.