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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 26

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (change from elected to single appointed) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1557:

A city or town which retained its elected assessors may, upon adoption of a local law, change over to the system of a sole appointed assessor.

We have received an inquiry concerning the new State law which authorizes municipalities with elected assessors to change over to the system of a sole appointed assessor.

Chapter 409 of the Laws of 1972 adds to the Real Property Tax Law a new section 1557 which sets forth the procedure by which a city or town may elect to discontinue the system of elected assessors and provide for a sole appointed assessor. Pursuant to this new section, in any city or town which retained its elected assessors by exercising the option in section 1556, a legislative body of such city or town may adopt a local law providing that such city or town shall have one assessor appointed pursuant to section 1522. The local legislative body may, in its discretion, determine that the local law shall be subject to a mandatory referendum. Where the local legislative body does not provide for a mandatory referendum, the local law is subject to a permissive referendum upon petition by the qualified electors of the local government.

The sole appointed assessor must be appointed within one year from the date of the adoption of the local law. However, there is an initial waiting period of at least 45 days after the adoption of the local law before which a new assessor may not be appointed. This 45-day period is the time within which a petition for referendum may be filed (Municipal Home Rule Law, § 24). If a petition is not filed within 45 days, then the local law becomes effective, and the terms of the elected assessors are terminated pursuant to the provision enacted in the local law.

If, on the other hand, the petition for referendum is filed, then the terms of office of the elected assessors expire pursuant to the provision in the local law if such law is approved by the referendum.

October 6, 1972

NOTE: Construes law prior to L.2006, c.521.