Mains Discusses STAR Exemptions

Homeowners may have received their STAR renewal form by mail, but JPS Superintendent Tim Mains isn’t taking any chances.

“Any taxpayer that lives within the city of Jamestown, or within the (Jamestown Public Schools) district, that would be subject to school taxes should file again for their STAR exemption if they qualify.”

This is the announcement Mains made during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Education in order to keep property owners aware and informed of the new requirement.

“I worry that some people have missed that message,” Mains said. “For several years, if I’ve gotten STAR before and I’ve qualified for it, I haven’t had to do anything. So it could very well be that people are taking for granted that once they have it, they’ll always have it. Sadly, somehow the state didn’t do a good job of tracking, and a few people were able to get in and have two or three STAR exemptions because they were claiming more than one piece of property as their primary residence. So (the state) is making everyone determine what their primary residence is, and that’s what they can apply for. But that means everybody, even if they only have one home, has to re-apply.”

Mains said he has been involved with three separate forums in which the re-application requirement was discussed, “but it’s all government people talking to government people.” Because of this, Mains said he has been trying to reach the general public through various means, including displaying posters in and sending fliers to the district’s school buildings.

All New York homeowners receiving a Basic STAR property tax exemption must register with the NYS Tax Department in order to receive the STAR exemption in 2014 and subsequent years. The registration deadline is Dec. 31.

All Basic STAR recipients will receive registration instructions by mail. Registration can also be done online at www.tax.ny.gov. For questions, call 518-457-2036 or visit the website.

Mains also reported that the board has received three interested applicants for the seat vacated by Tim Thomas last month. He said the board is reviewing questions, as recommended by Mains, to be asked to the candidates in an interview process.

“In broad strokes, I’m pretty confident that (the board) is accepting my recommendation to go through an interview process before they make a determination of who that individual is going to be,” Mains said. “I think three (applicants) is great. This is not an easy job to do. I wouldn’t expect there to be hordes of applicants for a position that pays zero, and yet has a tremendous amount of time required to pay attention to very fine details and be available to the public to answer questions. It’s a very important position, but one that is very time consuming and demanding. And I certainly understand that a lot of folks are hesitant to put themselves on the line for that kind of public service work.”

Mains said, depending on how well the board can coordinate its schedules with the applicants, the board’s goal is to fill the position by the end of September. The position will expire in May, at which point the successful candidate can choose whether or not to run in next year’s board of elections.