A reminder to all voters: When you go to vote this year, be sure to flip your ballot over and review the constitutional amendment questions on the back. Both are worthy of consideration.
Proposition 1 relates to small city school districts. This question reads, “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?”
If enacted, this would not mean that the debt limit for small city schools is unlimited. This amendment, along with a recently signed new law, would mean that small city school districts like Peekskill will finally have opportunities equal to those of the large suburban and rural districts when it comes to capital projects and debt limits.
Currently, under the State Constitution, small city school districts cannot incur debt of more than 5% of their average full value of taxable real estate, except with approval by 60% of voters, the State Comptroller, and the Board of Regents. In contrast, large suburban and rural districts have no constitutionally prescribed debt limits but do have a statutory limit of 10%. This puts small city school districts at a severe disadvantage when it comes to maintaining and improving facilities. The constitutional amendment and this new law would make all school districts equal.
What does this mean for you? If you live in Peekskill or any of New York’s other small city school districts, it will be easier to modernize your local school buildings. For those who do not live in small city school districts, this amendment does not impact you negatively. Voting “Yes” only levels the playing field for these small city school districts, which makes our region better.
Proposition 2 gives municipalities flexibility when it comes to financing sewage facilities. This proposal extends their authority to remove debt for the construction of these facilities from their constitutional debt limits for ten years. In this era of climate change, this authority is needed so that our local governments have the ability to finance these critical infrastructure projects.
To read the full amendments and the ballot language, you can visit the NYS Board of Elections website at https://www.elections.ny.gov/2023BallotProposals.html.
Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg