Five Propositions Should Be Approved

Compared to the casino gambling proposition, five other propositions up for consideration on Tuesday are garnering much less attention.

Proposition 2 creates an additional civil service credit for veterans with disabilities certified post appointment. The amendment benefits those who through no fault of their own were not classified as a veteran with disabilities at the time of their first civil service appointment. Veterans applying the credits will be less limited by time constraints, making them more likely to be hired to civil service positions. In addition, they note that veterans are more likely to be unemployed than the average citizen. They argue that this amendment would not only increase employment opportunities for veterans, but would also help put their training and experience to work for the state and local governments.

The third proposition is an exclusion of indebtedness contracted for sewage facilities. Approving the proposition extends for 10 years the time that payment for sewage treatment facilities doesn’t count against a municipality or county’s constitutional tax limit. The proposition is a sign that state officials realize many areas throughout the state have significant sewer work that needs to be undertaken – including Chautauqua County – and that having that work count against the constitutional taxing limits would hinder sewer projects from being completed.

The fourth and fifth propositions deal with land issues. The first addresses a long-standing disagreement between the state and landowners regarding more than 200 lots in Long Lake, New York. If passed, the amendment would allow private citizens to retain the land, and the government would buy other property for a net profit. The second land measure would allow NYCO Minerals to extend the reach of its Lewis mine by 200 acres into the neighboring preserve in order to mine wollastonite and remain a viable business. In return, 1,500 acres would be added to the Jay Mountain Wilderness and Taylor Pond Wild Forest, both preserves in the Adirondack region.

Those against the propositions have argued using a ballot proposition to settle the original land dispute is a poor precedent and that fees from use of the property aren’t enough to allow the state to buy replacement land for a forest preserve. There are also concerns the NYCO Minerals proposition diminishes the “Forever Wild” clause because it benefits a private company rather than a clear public municipal purpose. Opponents also argue the company has between 15 and 20 years of wollastonite on the property, enough to last while the company uses other means to secure the land it needs.

Such concerns, while important to those involved, aren’t enough to sway us in backing the propositions.

Proposition 6 increases the age alter the mandatory retirement age for New York state judges of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, and Justices of the Supreme Court, the state’s trial court of unlimited original jurisdiction, may serve. Under current rules, Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals must retire at age 70, but Justices of the Supreme Court may be certified to serve for three additional two-year terms, or until age 76. The proposed change would extend that time to age 80 for both Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals.

Over the next four years, it is estimated that New York state we will lose more than 40 members of the Supreme Court and three members of the Court of Appeals due to this mandatory retirement age that applies to no other public official in the state.

All five propositions should receive approval from state voters.