By Mark Hallum
A pair of Republican city lawmakers joined together to introduce a bill which will qualify Cold War veterans for a tax exemption currently only reserved for those who served in a “specified period of conflict.”
City Councilmen Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) are the prime sponsors of the bill, which was originally signed onto by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and two other legislators.
“As a proud advocate for our nation’s heroes, I am thrilled to sponsor this bill, which would expand New York City’s veterans property tax exemption to Cold War veterans,” Ulrich said. “Although it would be impossible to fully repay the debt we owe our veterans for their service, our government should make every effort to commemorate the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform.”
Although the Cold War can be viewed as little more than a series of spy games and proxy wars, the bill would grant the property tax exemption to U.S. troops who served in conflicts ranging from Latin American operations throughout the Cold War to the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, to the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979.
“The fact is, as a city, we have been excluding women and men who have served their country and stared down the tangible danger that accompanies combat because the engagements they’ve served in have not been sanctioned by bureaucrats which would allow them their due benefits,” Borelli said. “There is no one who would dispute the risks or dangers faced by the participants of these engagements and the semantics of what is or is not deemed to be a ‘specified’ combat engagement is insulting to the participants. The correction that this bill makes is long overdue, and I’m proud of the support that I’ve received from my colleagues right out of the gate, which exemplifies the importance of this issue to so many New Yorkers from such a diversity of districts across our city.”
The bill does not currently have a vote date at City Hall.
“Expansion of the Veterans property tax exemption to include Cold War Veterans will have an enormous impact for those who served our armed forces. Many veterans living in private homes, co-ops and condos have often expressed the difficulty of getting by on fixed incomes while dealing with escalating property taxes,” Vallone said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall