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Volume 7 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 92

Opinions of Counsel index

Aged exemption (scope) (school taxes - library appropriation) - Education Law, § 259; Real Property Tax Law, § 467:

Where a library has been established by the voters of a school district pursuant to the Education Law, and the governing body of the school district has adopted the partial real property tax exemption for aged persons, the exemption applies to the tax levied for library purposes.

Our opinion has been requested regarding the adoption of the aged exemption by a union free school district (Real Property Tax Law, § 467) and the effect this action has on the support of the library established by the taxpayers of the school district pursuant to section 255 of the Education Law.

Subdivision 1 of section 259 of the Education Law provides that “taxes . . . may be voted for library purposes . . . and shall be levied and collected yearly . . . as are other general taxes”. It further provides that where a school district has established a library, the appropriation for library purposes shall be submitted to the voters of the school district “in a separate resolution and shall not be submitted as a part of the appropriation of necessary funds to meet the estimated expenses of the school district”. Moneys received for library purposes are to be kept in a separate library fund.

That the appropriation for library purposes is voted on separately and that library moneys are segregated from other school district funds does not alter the fact that these monies are raised by taxes levied and collected as are other “general taxes”. The use of the term “general taxes” logically refers to the school tax (see, Locust Valley Library v. Board of Education, 54 Misc.2d 315, 282 N.Y.S.2d 376 (S.Ct., Nassau Co., 1967)).

“Tax” or “taxation” is defined in section 102(20) of the Real Property Tax Law as “a charge imposed upon real property by or on behalf of a county, city, town, village or school district for municipal or school district purposes, but does not include a special ad valorem levy or a special assessment”. Section 467 provides that “[r]eal property . . . shall be exempt from taxation by any municipal corporations in which located to the extent of fifty per centum of the assessed valuation thereof . . .”. “Municipal corporation” is defined as “a county, city, town, village or school district” (Real Property Tax Law, § 102(10)).

Since a library appropriation is part of the moneys raised through school taxes, it is our opinion that an aged exemption from school taxes also applies to moneys raised for library purposes. If, however, a public library district was formed (see, e.g., L.1963, c.1017) and special ad valorem levies were used to finance it, the aged exemption would not be applicable thereto (see, Morris v. County Board of Assessors, Nassau Co., 35 N.Y.2d 624, 324 N.E.2d 310, 364 N.Y.S.2d 820 (1974)).

April 27, 1981