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Salmon River economics offer helping hand to community

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FORT COVINGTON - Salmon River Advanced Economics students are giving back to their community this week by helping homeowners re-register for the STAR program.

Students set up computers Wednesday in the Salmon River Elementary School lobby and waited for anyone who needed help. Guided by student assistants, homeowners enter their STAR code and other relevant personal information into an online form. Once registration is complete, the students print a certificate for the homeowner.

The event was the brain-child of teacher Eric Sharlow. When he pitched it to the students, they agreed that it was a good way to help people save money and give back to the community.

“I just got mine in the mail,” Mr. Sharlow said. “I thought about the people in isolation and uncertainty and wanted to help.”

New legislation this year requires those receiving Basic STAR exemption to register with the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance. According to their website, homeowners will not have to reregister every year because the DTF will monitor eligibility in the future.

Cynthia King, a representative of the DTF, spoke to the Franklin County Board of Legislators about STAR in mid-September. She explained the point of the new registration is to remove people from the list who should not be receiving Basic STAR.

“There’s some untold amount of money going out to ineligible people,” Ms. King said.

Fraudulent exemptions have primarily been the result of claims on non-primary residences, sometimes out of state. The new registration will combat this.

“Local assessors monitor Basic STAR in their communities, but do not have the ability to know if an individual is receiving STAR in any of the other 1,000 localities statewide,” said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox in a New York State Department of Taxation and Finance news release. “This is the first registration in the STAR Program’s 15-year history, and it will eliminate inappropriate and fraudulent exemptions.”

Across September town boards across the area discussed the registration, expressing worry that some members of their community may be confused and miss the Aug. 19 to Dec. 31 registration window. Seniors over 65 outside New York City have always been required to apply annually, so they have not been affected by the new legislation.

The students at Salmon River will be available to help community members from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Monday and Wednesdat. Future dates and times may be offered based on participation.

Anyone with questions can go to DTF’s website or call 518-457-2036.

Staff writer Arianna Macneill contributed to this article.

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