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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 39

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessments (responsibility of assessor) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(3), 514, 572:

The assessor of a jurisdiction has the sole right to determine the level of assessment within his assessing unit. The town board may not substitute its judgment for that of the assessor.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether a town board has the authority to prohibit an assessor from using appraisals made by a revaluation firm as the basis for the current assessment roll.

Subdivision 3 of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law defines an assessor as “an elected or appointed officer or body of officers charged by law with the duty of assessing real property for the purposes of taxation or special ad valorem levies. . .”.

The assessor must determine the market value of taxable properties and assess them at a uniform percentage of full value. It is also the assessor who selects the percentage of full value at which the property shall be assessed for tax purposes.

In Drelich v. Kahn, 60 Misc.2d 227, 302 N.Y.S.2d 634, the right of the assessor to change the applicable ratio was challenged, and the court, at page 639, stated:

“The Court does not agree that fixing the ratio is a legislative function to the extent that the City Council must set the rate. The legislative mandate to the Assessor is to assess, and the Assessor meets that mandate when he assesses all similar property at a uniform ratio.”

The employment of experts to appraise the value of real property is “for the assistance of the assessors in the assessment of real property” (Real Property Tax Law, section 572). But it is the assessor who evaluates the figures of the experts, makes his independent determinations, and verifies that he has estimated the value of the property as prescribed in section 514 of the Real Property Tax Law.

Accordingly, the town board has no jurisdiction over the assessment roll, and may not substitute its judgment for that of the assessor.

February 25, 1972