Along with elections for East Hampton Town supervisor, town board, trustees, justice, assessors, and superintendent of highways, as well as Suffolk County executive, legislator in the Second District, and Supreme Court Justice, Tuesday’s ballot includes two proposals for voters to weigh in on.
The first proposal would codify into state law the limit of debt that school districts can incur as a percentage of their respective total taxable property values, mostly affecting small city districts. At present, “small city” districts, defined as schools serving cities or portions of cities with fewer than 125,000 people, can carry only a maximum of 5 percent of their assessed values in debt, while larger districts can take on up to 7 percent (and 10 percent in New York City and Nassau County).
If Proposition 1 is approved, the debt limit would be increased to 7 percent for small city school districts — on par with most others in the state — effectively giving them more fiscal autonomy. School districts of any size have the ability to override the constitutional debt limit by putting such a measure up for a public referendum, requiring a supermajority of voter approval to pass.
It should be noted that New York State has a total of 62 official cities, none of which are on the South Fork.
The second ballot proposal concerns a proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution that would extend for 10 years the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to remove debt for the construction of sewage facilities from their constitutional debt limits.
The State Constitution limits the debt that municipalities can incur. The limit has an exception that excludes debt for sewage disposal and treatment construction projects, but that exception expires on Jan. 1, 2024. The proposal asks voters if an amendment should extend the exception until Jan. 1, 2034. A yes vote would extend the exception.