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New York Rural Water Association Position on Ballot Proposition # 3

  • 30 October 2013
  • networx

Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities

Ballot propositions are too often overlooked by voters on Election Day. We urge voters to pay close attention to this proposition, and to vote yes on its adoption.

This measure would extend a provision of law which has been in effect since 1962, and renewed every ten years since, to exclude indebtedness for sewage facilities from their constitutional debt limits.

This proposition comes up for renewal at a critical time. Statewide, sewage facility upgrades are projected to cost as much as $36 billion over the next two decades, according to the New York State Comptroller.

It’s important to note that in the decade between 2001 and 2011, about 170 municipalities, used this exemption.

These expenditures are not optional – they are necessary to protect the public health, as well as to meet increasingly stringent state and federal environmental regulations. Those regulations, and the potential threat to public health can’t be ignored. These upgrades have to be made, the question is, will making them hinder the ability of municipalities to issue bonds for other necessary projects?

Unlike water supply infrastructure, which is permanently excluded from inclusion in municipal debt limits, the exclusion for wastewater treatment must be renewed by a public vote every ten years. But it isn’t an option. If you supply water to people, the wastewater has to go somewhere, and it has to be disposed of in a manner that does not harm the public or the environment.

Excluding Sewage Facility indebtedness from municipal debt limitations allows municipalities to borrow to maintain this critical infrastructure, and still be able to undertake other necessary infrastructure projects – such as road and bridge repair – without the risk of reaching their constitutional debt limits.

The Board of Directors of the New York Rural Water Association supports the adoption of Ballot Proposition # 3, and urges the public to support it as well.