Board OKs veterans’ tax break article

HOLLIS – Approximately 360 veterans might get a bigger property tax break if voters approve an article at next year’s Town Meeting.

After some debate, the Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to present voters with a warrant article that would increase property tax credits for veterans.

Currently, the town gives a $100 property tax credit to veterans and a $1,400 credit to disabled veterans. The veteran tax credit would increase to $500, the maximum amount allowed. The disabled veteran tax credit would increase from $1,400 to the maximum of $2,000.

Although all members agreed that the disabled veteran tax credit should be raised to the maximum, two members took issue with raising the other tax credit.

Members Mark Johnson and Ray Lindsay argued in favor of raising the amount for the veteran tax credit gradually: up to $200 instead of $500 next year. Johnson argued the first-year tax impact would be less burdensome for a smaller increase, and the town could revisit the issue if residents wanted to raise it again the following year.

Other residents would have to pay a total of $144,000 during the first year the $500 credit was in effect in order to make up for taxes normally received from veterans.

Board members Vahrij Manoukian and Richard Walker wanted to increase the limit to the maximum because they said the town needs to show more appreciation for veterans.

“They sacrificed their life and whatever the town can do, they deserve it,” Manoukian said. “Especially with the current situation,” referring to the fighting in Iraq.

“I think we’ve had a very nominal amount in there (for tax relief) for a few years,” Walker said. “I think it’s time we did something a little more substantial.”

When it came down to a vote on the warrant article language, Johnson decided to support the article including a $500 veteran tax credit.

“Taxpayers get the final say,” Johnson said. “If they feel (the tax impact) is too much, they can vote against it.”

Another possibility is voters could amend the warrant article to specify a lower amount.

Lindsay was the only one opposed to drafting the warrant article with a $500 veteran tax credit. He said he would have supported a $200 tax credit. Chairman Don Ryder recused himself from voting on the credit because he is a veteran and receives that credit.

The Brookline Board of Selectmen also voted last month to present a warrant article to increase its tax credit to $500.