Amendment Purpose:

1967 Constitutional Convention Amendment: Retains existing powers of local governments, requires local redistricting, allows legislature to perform assessment or tax collection functions

Summary of Amendment:
  • Retains existing powers of local governments and grants all legislative and administrative powers which legislature has power to confer subject to a Statute of Restrictions to be enacted.
  • Adds permission for two or more counties-or New York City and adjoining county-to create a regional agency to handle specific governmental functions after adoption of local laws, followed by referendum.
  • Allows counties to adopt charters by referendum with additional approvals required therein if local governments within the county are affected.
  • Requires local redistricting after every federal census and mandates equal population districts.
  • Prohibits members of local legislative bodies from holding public office in any other local government or any other elective office.
  • Permits legislature, by statute, to provide for counties to perform assessment or tax collection functions for units of government within their boundaries.

Article XI

Local Governments

Section 1. This article describes the powers and other aspects of the operations of local governments, which are defined as counties, cities, towns and villages.

Section 2. This article retains existing powers of local governments and, in addition, grants to them, subject to a statute of restrictions to be enacted, all legislative and administrative power which the legislature has power to confer.

Section 3. In addition every local government is granted power to adopt local laws, not inconsistent with general law, relating to matters of local concern and local aspects of matters of state concern. The legislature, with certain limited excep­tions, may act in these matters only on reqnest from each local government affected or by general law or (except for New York City) on message of necessity from the governor and a two-thirds vote in each house.

Section 4. This general grant is supplemented by the right to adopt local laws, not inconsistent with general law, relating to specific subjects, including the govern­ment, protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of persons or property therein. The legislature is authorized to incorporate other specific grants of local government rights in a statute of local governments which may be amended to reduce such rights only by action of the legislature with the governor’s approval in two successive years.

Section 5. The right of counties to adopt county charters by referendum is continued, but if only the government of the county is involved in the reorganization this may now be done by a single county-wide referendnm approval instead of separate approvals in the cities and in the county outside of cities. Any change affecting units of government within a county will still require a dual or triple referendum. The right to transfer functions from one unit of government to another with appropriate referendum approvals is continued and extended to counties which have not adopted charters.

Section 6. Two or more counties, or one or more with New York City, are empowered to create regional agencies to which they may transfer one or more of their functions.

Section 7. Every local legislative body is required to redistrict its area in equal popula­tion districts in the year following each federal decennial census. Members of local legislative bodies are prohibited from holding public office in any other local government or any other elective office except delegate to a constitutional convention.

Section 8. The legislature is required to provide for the supervision, review and equaliza­tion of assessments for purposes of taxation and may provide for counties to perform assessment or tax collection functions for units of government within their boundaries.

Legislative Amendment Text:

Article XI

Local Governments

Section 1. A bill of rights is hereby declared for local governments.  Effective local self-government and intergovernmental cooperation are purposes of the people of the state. In furtherance thereof, local governments shall have the rights, powers, privileges and immunities granted to them by this constitution, all of which shall be liberally construed in favor of local governments.

a. Every local government shall have a legislative body elected by the people thereof.

b. All officers of every local government whose election or appointment is not provided for by this constitution shall be elected by the voters of the local government, or of some division thereof, or appointed by such officers of the local government as may be provided by the legislature or local law.

c. Every local government shall have power to adopt local laws.

d. Local governments shall have power to provide cooperatively, jointly or by contract any facility, service, activity or undertaking which each participating local government has the power to provide separately. Local governments may also enter into such arrangements with any other government or any governmental agency or instrumentality within or without the state, as the legislature may provide.

e. No local government or any part of the territory thereof shall be annexed to another unless (I) the voters, if any, of the territory proposed to be annexed shall consent thereto by majority vote on a referendum and (2) the governing board of each local government, the area of which is affected, upon a determination that the annexation is in the over-all public interest, shall consent thereto; or where such consent of a governing board is not granted, there is a determination on the law and the facts that the annexation is in the over-all public interest in a proceeding initiated in the supreme court in the manner provided by the legislature. The consent of the governing board of a county shall be required only where a boundary of the county is affected.

f. Local governments shall have power to take by eminent domain private property within their boundaries for public use together with excess property but no more than is sufficient to provide for appropriate disposition or use of property which abuts on that necessary for such public use, and they may sell or lease that not devoted to such use. The legislature may authorize and regulate the exercise of the power of eminent domain and excess condemnation by a local govern­ment outside its boundaries.

g. A local government may apportion its cost of a governmental service or function upon any portion of its area, as authorized by the legislature.

h. No local government shall be prohibited by the legislature (I) from making a fair return on the value of the property used and use­ful in its operation of a gas, electric or water public utility service, over and above costs of operation, maintenance and necessary and proper reserves, in addition to an amount equivalent to taxes which such service, if privately owned, would pay to such local government, or (2) from using such profits for payment of refunds to consumers or for any other lawful purpose.

i. (1) Counties shall be authorized by general law, or by special law enacted upon county request pursuant to section two of this article, to adopt, amend or repeal alternative forms of county government provided by the legislature or to prepare, adopt, amend or repeal alternative forms of their own. No such form of government shall become effective unless approved at a referendum by a majority of the votes cast thereon in the county. Any such form of government or any amendment thereof, by statute or by local law, may transfer one or more functions or duties of the county or the other local governments, districts, or other units of government wholly contained in such county, to each other or, when authorized by the legislature, to the state, or may abolish one or more offices, agencies or units of government. No such form of government, or amendment thereof, proposing to so transfer one or more functions or duties or to abolish one or more offices, agencies or units of government, other than county offices or agencies, shall become effective unless approved at a referendum by a majority of the votes cast thereon in both the area of the county out­side of cities, and in the cities of the county, if any, considered as one unit. Where an alternative form of county government or any amendment thereof, by statute or by local law, provides for the transfer of any function or duty to or from any village wholly contained in such county or the abolition of such a village or any office or agency thereof such form or amendment shall not become effective unless it shall also be approved at the referendum by a majority of the votes cast thereon in all the villages so affected considered as one unit.

(2) After the adoption of an alternative form of county government by a county, any amendment thereof by statute or by local law which abolishes or creates an elective county office, changes the voting or veto power of or the method of removing an elective county officer during his term of office, abolishes, curtails or transfers to another county officer or agency any power of an elective county officer or changes the form or composition of the county legislative body shall be subject to a permissive referendum in the manner provided by the legislature.

(3) Any county, whether or not it has adopted an alternative form of county government, shall have power to adopt and amend local laws providing for the transfer to the county of one or more functions or duties of the cities, towns, villages or districts therein, or the abolition of one or more offices or agencies of such units or districts therein. No such local law or amendment shall become effective unless approved at a referendum in the manner prescribed by paragraph (I) of this subdivision for transfers of functions under an alternative form of county government.

j. Any local government shall have power to adopt and amend local laws providing for the transfer, as authorized by the legislature, of one or more of its functions or duties to any other local government. Such local laws and amendments shall be subject to mandatory or per­missive referendum in each of the local governments affected in the manner provided by the legislature.

k. Two or more counties, or one or more counties with the city of New York, shall have power to create by local law a regional gov­ernmental agency to which may be transferred one or more functions or duties of the participants. Such power shall be exercised in the manner and subject to the conditions prescribed by general law, or by special law enacted upon requests pursuant to section two of this arti­cle. Such agency shall be a corporate instrumentality of the partici­pants. The provision of funds for the agency’s purposes shall be a county or city purpose and funds shall be provided by the participants subject to their limitations on taxation and indebtedness. The creation of such an agency and any transfer of functions or duties shall be subject to mandatory or permissive referendum in each participating county and city in the manner provided by the legislature.

1. Local governments shall have the right to sue; and they shall be subject to suit as the legislature may provide.