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Maryvale latest to offer veterans extra tax break

As he perused the meeting agenda during a Maryvale School Board executive session Monday night, Raymond Clancy contemplated the line item, “Adoption of Veterans’ Tax Exemption Resolution.”

“You wouldn’t be able to vote if we lost the war,” the Word War II veteran observed. “Thank God that we were able to come out of it – some of us – to live a good, American life.”

Clancy, a member of the Air Force from 1942 to 1945, and a half dozen of his fellow veterans applauded as trustees unanimously approved the measure to offer veterans the exemption after nine months of consideration.

The board began the process of studying the tax break in December, when county officials explained to trustees that the alternative veterans’ exemption was signed into law Dec. 18, 2013, and allows districts to opt in for school tax purposes.

According to the county Department of Real Property Tax Services, property owners who served in and were honorably discharged from service during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Persian Gulf Conflict would be eligible for at least a 15 percent exemption on their property taxes.

After public hearings in December and January, the board decided to hold a nonbinding referendum during the annual budget vote in May asking voters if they would support the district offering the exemption to qualified veterans. The referendum, which passed, outlined the lowest level of allowable exemption limits – $6,000 for wartime veterans, $10,000 for combat-zone veterans and $20,000 for disability veterans – but included language that gave trustees the option to increase the limits.

During Monday’s meeting, trustees decided to match the county’s exemptions at $18,000 for wartime veterans, $30,000 for combat-zone veterans and $60,000 for disability veterans, which were the highest levels available, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Lunden said.

The effect on a veteran’s home assessed at $130,000 will be a $495 tax decrease, while a non-veteran with the same home value would see a $39 tax increase, Lunden said. He added that the changes would take effect in 2016.