Congratulations to the Dobbs Ferry School Board for approving an alternative veterans tax exemption on the school property taxes that eligible veterans pay. The speed of the seven-member board’s unanimous approval to recognize and honor the village’s small group of veterans with a very modest reduction in their taxes at a fractional cost to other taxpayers — $2.60 per $100,000 of assessed value according to the Greenburgh Assessor’s Office — is very similar to the action that the Hastings-on-Hudson School Board took six years ago. That’s when the New York State law went into effect, empowering school boards with the right to approve the new veterans exemption.
Many school boards like Hastings’ adopted the measure because they felt honoring their small and declining populations of veterans did not require debate and that shifting the minor additional costs to others would not be a burden. Unfortunately for Ardsley’s veterans, whose ranks are also small and declining, the school board did not sign off in spite of a vigorous campaign, led by our Post 458, including a strong contingent of vets who participated in the public hearings that were well publicized in The Rivertowns Enterprise. But the Ardsley board voted against it two years in a row. And in both cases, the board’s decision was unanimous — totally opposite of what happened in Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson.
The Ardsley board’s argument was that the State, not the school board, should pay totally for the exemption. But, as it turns out, the majority of school boards in Westchester, several of which boast the highest school taxes in the nation, have had no problem in adopting the measure, correctly determining that the cost of honoring those who served is hardly a burden. Ardsley’s veterans urgently ask the school board to step up and do the right thing. In fact, as we approach Memorial Day, Ardsley’s vets hope they will one day soon be honored exactly the same as their other Rivertown peers. As Dobbs Ferry just demonstrated, it’s never too late.