Although 2019 is an off-year election, New York City voters will still have a lot to consider before heading to the polls. At a meeting Wednesday evening, the New York City Charter Revision Commission voted to approve 17 proposals to amend the City Charter that will go on the ballot.
The commission voted on a total of 18 draft proposals split up under five groupings based on a preliminary staff report – election and redistricting, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, governance, finance and land use. In the election group, commissioners approved proposals creating establishing ranked-choice voting, changing the timing of special elections and amending the timing of redistricting.
Only three of the five CCRB proposals moved forward – one changing its structure in part by expanding the number of members, requiring an explanation when the police commissioner deviates from recommended discipline and the ability to delegate subpoena power to the CCRB executive director.
In governance, each proposal passed, changing how the corporation counsel gets appointed, giving one appointment each to the Conflicts of Interest Board to the public advocate and the New York City comptroller and establishing a mayoral office of minority and women-owned businesses.
Four of the five proposals in finance moved forward. They would require the City Council and mayor to establish a structure for units of appropriations, require that the mayor submit a budget estimate by May 25, change the timing for budget modifications and establish a “rainy day” fund.
Both of the two land use proposals advanced as well – establishing a Universal Land Use Review Process pre-certification notice period and providing community boards more time to review a ULURP application.
Two particular measures garnered substantial debate, and were approved pending revisions made by staff. They would create guaranteed budgets for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the borough presidents and the public advocate. In the case of the CCRB, the commission directed staff to revisit how the minimum budget would be calculated and to add in a mechanism that would allow the mayor to decrease its budget if necessary. Commissioners raised similar concerns about the budgets for borough presidents and the public advocate. The proposal as written required the budgets to increase at minimum according to inflation. While many commissioners agreed the offices needed way to index increases based on an initial baseline, they could not agree on the best way to do that, so they told staff to look into it more. The commission agreed the guaranteed budgets are necessary, but will meet again on June 18 to vote on the amendments made by the staff.
The remaining proposal – which would have allowed the CCRB to investigate false statements made by a police officer that is the subject of a complaint – got rejected outright, so there is no possibility that it will appear on the November ballot.
Several of the approved measures included minor amendments, which will be added to the finalized ballot proposals the commission will adopt in July. Between then and now, the commission staff will create the official language of each that will appear on the ballot and produce a final report.