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Bethlehem gives veterans a break

Bethlehem has joined Albany County and several surrounding municipalities in offering its veteran residents a little tax relief in recognition of their service.

In a unanimous vote, the town board voted the exemption into law at its Wednesday, Feb. 11, meeting.

Under the amendment, qualifying veterans will be exempt from 10 to 15 percent of property taxation for a period of 10 years, without exceeding $12,000.

However, town officials said only one exemption can be used by local veterans. If an individual is already receiving a veteran exemption, they cannot receive a second.

A Cold War veteran is any person who served on active duty in the United States armed forces between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991, and was released or discharged under honorable conditions.

Those armed forces include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and active duty refers to full-time duty, not active duty for training.

Also eligible for the exemptions are spouses of Cold War veterans and surviving unremarried spouses of deceased Cold War veterans.

The local law was adopted by Albany County last summer to recognize the veterans' sacrifices and services. Each municipality then has the option to implement the property tax exemption for Cold War veterans.

Since the law was passed by the county, neighboring Town of New Scotland has adopted the amendment.

Councilman Sam Messina, who could not attend the meeting, had a statement read by Town Clerk Kathy Newkirk during the public hearing. Messina, a Vietnam veteran, said he supported the measure and believes more incentives and initiatives should be available to veterans.

Councilman Kyle Kotary and Supervisor Jack Cunningham both spoke in favor of the Cold War Veteran tax exemption during the board meeting.

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