Editorial: The Propositions

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There are two questions on the November 3 ballot from Suffolk County. Our position is that “no” is the proper way to mark the ballot in both instances.

Proposition 1 would change the term of office for Suffolk County legislators from two to four years, beginning with those taking office in 2022. Extending terms is often a sensible move, because it allows elected officials to spend more time on governance and less on the bothersome business of campaigning, and raising money.

But county legislator campaigns are far from onerous and should never be a major distraction for office-holders. At the same time, voters will lose the ability to change horses more quickly in case of a poor candidate chosen for office. There simply seems no real benefit to the move, except for incumbents.

On the other hand, Proposition 2 is something closer to an outrage. At a time when Suffolk County was already inching toward insolvency — and that’s before the pandemic struck — officials are looking for a life-saver anywhere they can find it.

If Proposition 2 is approved, some of the proceeds of the county’s quarter-percent sales tax enacted in 1987 to protect water quality can be raided to aid the county’s bottom line at a time when sales tax revenues are down. The county borrowed from this fund, and has been ordered to repay those funds — this makes the maneuver okay in the end.

No. The county’s fiscal crisis is serious, but this is an unjustified betrayal of the voters’ decision on the importance of water quality. Look elsewhere for places to balance the county’s general fund.

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