ICC adopts tax break for Cold War vets

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane School Board passed a motion to extend a tax exemption for veterans of the Cold War whose primary residence is in the district. The district is one of several in the county that approved this exemption after already approving a tax exemption for combat veterans.

District Business Manager Michael Brennan told the board at the January 10 meeting that 38 district residents could take advantage of this exemption that would change assessments for the rest of the residents in the district by .04%. Mr. Brennan said in his report to the board that, this on average would cost non-vets approximately $1.50 to $3 per tax bill.

He stressed that it would have “minimal impact across the district.”

The board approved the exemption for up to 10% of the assessed value of the property, which is the same percentage board members approved for combat veterans last year. Thirty-six Cold War veterans live in Columbia County and two in the part of the district that lies in Rensselaer County.

School board President Anthony Welcome asked Mr. Brennan if this meant that all the veterans will now have a tax exemption. Columbia County Director of Veteran’s Services Gary Flaherty, who was at the meeting, said that this exemption would cover veterans who served from the end of World War II through first Gulf War. The years of eligibility according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance, run from September 2, 1945 to December 26, 1991.

The board passed the motion with little discussion; all board members who attended the meeting supported the exemption.

Mr. Welcome reported on the district’s search for a new superintendent. Current School Superintendent George Zini is leaving in June. The board has been meeting with representatives from BOCES/Questar III to help with the search for a new head of the district since early fall.

Mr. Welcome said at the board meeting that 25 people applied for the job. The board and a constituent committee reviewed 11 applications to get the number of applicants down to 7. He said that after meeting with Questar on Monday, the board will interview three final candidates on January 30 with the hope appointing a new superintendent in March.

“For obvious reasons I can’t mention names,” he said of the candidates, “but we are down to three people.”

Also at the meeting:

• The board heard a report about the district’s Transportation Department from Head Bus Driver Dan Doyle. The department has been working with a consultant and Mr. Doyle said that they have made several changes, including more training, safety meetings and better use of substitute bus drivers rather than having mechanics drive. He said his department and the consultant are still working on bus passes and drop-offs

• Mr. Doyle also talked about looking into a one-bell system, which would mean all the schools in the district starting and ending at the same time. Currently, grades 4 through 12 are on the same schedule so they all ride the bus together. Students at the Primary School (kindergarten through 3rd grade) are on a separate bus run.

Mr. Zini said that a one-bell system would need to be looked into and discussed with the community. It was not something that would be put in place anytime soon

•Mr. Zini reported on the second phase of the Preliminary Smart Schools Investment Plan. The board was awarded $1.3 million from the state to spend on technology. After a committee was formed to review what was needed in the district, the board approved spending about $689,000 on upgrades last year.

This second wave of spending would use another $256,000 for new desktops computers for teachers, laptop carts for classrooms and keyboards for iPads used by students.

The board must hold a public hearing on the spending before they can approve moving forward with the plan. Mr. Zini said the details are online at www.ichabodcrane.org

• Mr. Brennan announced that the district has received an Aa3 ratings from Moody’s Investor Service. He said that the means the district has been rated high quality and low credit risk, which helps the district needs to borrow money for projects. “In the Moody’s world [that rating] is very high,” he said

• The board has started its review of budget numbers in preparation for creating the 2017-18 school budget. Mr. Zini presented the board with a list of district staff for the board to review. “Everything is an estimate,” he said of any preliminary budget numbers now.

The next school board meeting will be Tuesday, February 7 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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