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Hamburg resident scolds Frontier School Board over not offering tax exemption for war veterans

Frontier School Board members did not like being scolded Tuesday night for not offering a tax exemption for war veterans.

Patrick F. Gorman, of Lake Shore Road in Hamburg, said he wanted to know why the board did not enact the exemption.

“I think it’s very disrespectful to veterans,” he said.

The board did not answer his question, since it was a public comment period of the regular board meeting, not a question-and-answer session. But board President Janet MacGregor Plarr said that someone would contact him.

“Our veterans deserve better than that,” Gorman said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Plarr did have some comments for Gorman near the end of the meeting, but he had left. Gorman was “way off base,” she said. She said she appreciates his service to the country but takes issue with his tone and attitude toward the board.

“While I did not serve in the military, I have many family members who have served and who continue to serve our great nation,” Plarr said. “I get a little emotional. My nephew died in Iraq, so we’ve witnessed war firsthand.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation in December 2013 that allows school districts to give combat and wartime veterans property tax exemptions. Any exemption given to veterans must be made up by other taxpayers.

“If we pass a resolution adopting the veterans tax exemption, we shift the tax burden to all the other taxpayers of the district,” she said. “If we don’t pass it, we are seen as un-American or disrespectful to veterans.”

Several members suggested that the board put the veterans tax exemption on the ballot in May. While it would be a nonbinding vote, the board could pledge to follow the outcome of the vote, said board member Patrick T. Boyle.