2005-12-14 / Seniors

Avella Seeks To Improve Veterans’ Property Tax Exemption

City Councilmember Tony Avella has requested that the state legislature amend the sections of the state property tax law which provide for the veterans’ partial property tax exemption in order to gain as much as $400 more a year from that benefit for some vets.

Avella’s objective is the elimination of the School Tax Add Back which is included in the veterans’ property tax exemption.

Avella explains: “Unfortunately, this important exemption is not applicable to school taxes. As a result, veterans receiving this benefit must pay back the school tax portion, which can be as much as $400 for an average singe-family homeowner.”

Th Bayside Democrat goes on to say that an average property tax bill in New York City is composed of approximately 55 percent school taxes; the remaining 45 percent is allocated to general fund taxes.

“Depending on the level of service of each veteran [who applies for the exemption], they are granted a specific percentage of exemption from the general fund taxes, but they are required to pay the entire school tax portion of the bill,” Avella said. He added, “Given the incredible sacrifice which is made by our military personnel serving during a time of war, and which was made during prior military conflicts, it seems an appropriate gesture of gratitude that we extend this veterans’ tax exemption to apply to school taxes as well as to the general fund taxes.”

SENIORS’ DAY AT THE MOVIES: More than 100 seniors were recently treated to a free screening of Laurel and Hardy short films at the Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) in Astoria. The hosts for the event were Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Long Island City); Bruce Cunningham, director of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging and David Schwartz, MMI chief curator.

“Going to the movies with our parents and grandparents offers us an opportunity to strengthen our bonds, bridge generations and to share a good laugh,” said Gioia, whose district includes Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside.

In his first four years as a councilmember, Gioia has built a good record for serving seniors. This includes securing $2 million in city funding for a new senior center in Sunnyside, for which he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently broke ground. Last year, he secured funding for a new Woodside Senior Center, too.

Legislatively, Gioia has worked to make prescription drugs more affordable by investigating the high cost of medications. He has also worked to make Food Stamps more accessible and to preserve the Meals-On-Wheels program when cutbacks were threatened

AWARD WINNER: Bill Schoenmuller of Middle Village, who puts out the “Midville Monthly”, the bulletin of the Middle Village Adult Center and also writes a column in it, recently won the National Public Relations Award at the 70th annual convention of the Catholic War Veterans U.S.A. held in Dallas.

Schoenmuller, a member of St. Margaret’s Post 1172 of the Catholic War Vets in Middle Village, won the award for his publicity book compiled at Post 1172. The award was presented to him by Jim Finkel, past commander of the Queens County Chapter, Catholic War Veterans.

MEDICAID WAIVER RENEWAL SOUGHT: New York state is seeking renewal of a program that makes it easier to sign up prospective beneficiaries of Medicaid, the state health care program for low-income families.

The Pataki gubernatorial administration, after giving long consideration to asking the federal government to continue the program, decided to apply for it, but the Bush presidential administration may not approve the request since it is seeking to reduce Medicaid rolls.

The program, known as “facilitated enrollment,” was created about five years ago. New York was the only state which allowed HMOs, community groups and clinics to help fill out applications for Medicaid. This practice is prohibited under federal law, so the state asked the Clinton administration to authorize the practice, which it did. Now the state wants the Bush administration to allow the same exception to the law.

Prior to the creation of facilitated enrollment, applicants had to go to welfare offices to enroll in Medicaid. This kept many people from applying. It’s estimated that since facilitated enrollment began, 1 million people have been to Medicaid. The current exemption ends on Mar. 31, 2006.

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