Two proposals were approved on the ballot statewide in New York this year: increasing the debt limits in small school districts and extending sewer repair debt limit exceptions. The passage of these seemingly uninteresting propositions would greatly impact New Yorkers.
The first proposal will allow small school districts, where some have below-average spending on students, to raise their debt limits from the current 5% threshold and receive more funding. The amendment had support from New York State United Teachers President Melinda Person and Charles Dedrick, executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, who wrote a statement in support alongside other state education leaders stressing the importance of passing the bill.
“This hurdle has delayed improvements and placed a higher financial burden on small city schools and the communities they serve,” they wrote in a joint statement. “This outdated provision is now doing more harm than good.”
The second proposal to extend sewer repair debt limit exceptions is particularly important given the devastating flooding in New York over the summer. Without the amendment’s passage, municipalities will have a debt limit of 7% of taxable real estate property.
The constitution’s current exception, which went into effect in 1963, must be renewed every 10 years, and it is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2024. According to Albany Law School, failure to pass this amendment could upend the current spending plans of certain localities. The state Conservative Party unsuccessfully encouraged voters to vote “no,” saying that “taxpayers have little to no knowledge of the indebtedness they are incurring; there is no cap on the costs or what would need to be covered.”
Q1: The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 4 of the Constitution removes the special constitutional debt limitation now placed on small city school districts, so they will be treated the same as all other school districts. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
11,462 of 13,255 election districts reported
Q2: The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution extends for ten years the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to remove from their constitutional debt limits debt for the construction of sewage facilities. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
11,518 of 13,255 election districts reported