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Tonawanda City schools approve veterans’ tax exemption

A week after 77 percent of district voters approved the Alternative Veterans’ Real Property Tax and Gold Star Parent exemptions, the Tonawanda City School Board unanimously passed the measures.

The board voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening in the Tonawanda High School library. Board member Diane Misner was excused from the meeting. The community vote on the exemptions were nonbinding.

Board President Jennifer Mysliwy acknowledged that the board took some heat from the community for putting the exemptions to a vote, instead of approving the exemptions before the election.

“I never second-guessed our decision,” she said. “I knew it was the right decision to bring it to the people … it was the right thing, and the community knows what the right thing is.”

Through the exemptions, veterans, combat veterans and disabled veterans will receive exemptions at the maximum amounts of $6,000, $10,000 and $20,000. The Gold Star Parent Exemption is for parents in the district whose sons or daughters have been killed in the line of duty.

Navy veteran Dale Zdrojewski, of Cleveland Avenue, attended the meeting to see which way the board would vote on the matter. He was pleased with the results.

“On behalf of the veterans in the City of Tonawanda, I want to thank you for your support of that vote last week,” he said to the board during the public comment session.

Board member Sharon Stuart said that the community needed to have a say on the matter, and that they overwhelmingly supported the district’s veterans.

“I’m very happy that this passed,” she said. “I hope our veterans were relieved to see that this community does support them, but the community did need to have a voice in this vote.”

In other board news, newly elected board members Heather Sternin and Brooke Kasprzak took a seat at the table with the board, although they won’t be sworn in until July. Both ran unopposed for the seats Mysliwy and Stuart are vacating. Board member Roger Starr II welcomed the newcomers.

“It’s one hell of a roller coaster ride,” he said with a laugh.

The board’s reorganizational meeting, originally scheduled for July 8, was moved a week earlier to July 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library.