(The Center Square) — New York voters on Tuesday approved a pair of constitutional amendments to provide more money to local governments to upgrade aging schools and sewage treatment systems.
In Tuesday’s elections, voters overwhelmingly approved Ballot Proposal #1, which will eliminate a constitutional debt limit on small city school districts with fewer than 125,000 people. The measure passed with nearly 65% of the vote, according to preliminary election results.
Many small school districts have complained that the debt limits – which can’t be higher than 5% of the value of taxable real estate in the district — are unfair and prevent them from making much-needed upgrades to school infrastructure.
Critics also note that a constitutional amendment doesn’t bind larger school districts and has a state-imposed debt limit of 10% of the value of taxable real property.
Ballot proposal #2, which voters also approved on Tuesday, extends the authority of local governments to exclude from their constitutional debt limits any debt incurred for the construction of sewage facilities for another 10 years. The referendum passed with nearly 68% of the vote, according to the results.
The state Constitution limits the debt counties, cities, towns and villages can rack up. But, the debt limit doesn’t include debt for sewage treatment and disposal construction projects.
The amendment will extend the sewer debt exception until Jan. 1, 2034. The exemption was set to expire in January.
Besides the amendments, New York City voters cast ballots in city council contests while voters nationwide decided races for mayors, district attorneys, judges and county executives.
In Suffolk County, Republican Ed Romaine defeated Democrat David Calone in a major upset to become the county’s next chief executive. A Democrat has held the seat for nearly two decades.
And in Erie County, incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz fended off a challenge from Republican businesswoman Chrissy Casilio to win a fourth term despite criticism that he has encouraged migrants to relocate.