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War veterans win battle for tax break

War veterans won the battle Tuesday for property tax breaks that bring them more in line with North Tonawanda's Twin City neighbor, the City of Tonawanda.

The veterans have been pleading with the Common Council for the same property tax breaks granted last month to Cold War veterans -- those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 but did not see action.

About 50 Cold War veterans have so far applied for the exemptions, which allow for 10 percent of the assessed value of their properties. The average property assessment in North Tonawanda is $100,000.

Wartime veterans showed up in strength for a third time, asking that the ceiling on their property tax exemptions be increased to $120,000, a $40,000 hike over the current rate.

Four of the five Council members and the mayor expressed support for the increase. Veterans next year will be exempt from paying property taxes up to $120,000.

"Looking at what surrounding communities have done for their veterans on this issue, I believe this should be the least we can do at this time to assist them," Mayor Lawrence V. Soos said. "Many veterans are volunteers who donate valuable time and dollars to community efforts," Soos added. "This exemption increase acknowledges their past service to our nation and their present service to our community."

A strong supporter of the tax concessions was Alderman Dennis Pasiak, a disabled Korean War veteran whose father, two uncles and two sons also served in the military.

"Veterans have given so much to their country," Pasiak said. "They deserve this."

Alderwoman Nancy Donovan also was a strong backer of the tax concessions.

Only Brett Sommer, the Council president, voted against the added tax breaks for the veterans, believing that any tax concessions ultimately have a negative effect on all taxpayers, who end up picking up the tab.

e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com

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