The Fourth Department determined the proposed 2019 referendum on amendments to City of Rochester Local Laws regarding the Board of Education, Commissioners and the salaries of School Board Members was impermissibly advisory:
Any local law that “[a]bolishes an elective office” or “reduces the salary of an elective officer during his [or her] term of office” is subject to mandatory referendum (Municipal Home Rule Law § 23  [e]), but an “advisory” referendum—i.e., one that lacks legal effect or consequence—is not permitted in the absence of express constitutional or statutory authority for it … .
Contrary to respondents’ contention, we conclude, for two independent reasons, that the referendum on the Local Law is impermissibly advisory and, thus, that the court properly declared the Local Law invalid and the referendum void. First, the language of section 5 of the Local Law, which conditions its effectiveness on subsequent action by the New York State Legislature, strips the referendum of any binding legal effect (…see … Municipal Home Rule Law § 23 ). Second, as the court correctly noted, a local government may not legislate in areas “where the State has evidenced its intent to occupy the field” … , and it is well established that the State has preempted local action in the field of public education … . Matter of Rochester City Sch. Dist. v City of Rochester, 2019 NY Slip Op 06449, Fourth Dept 9-4-19