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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 101

Opinions of Counsel index

Board of assessment review (effect of Article 15-A on inconsistent city charters) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 1524, 1558, 1560:

Provisions of a city charter (of a city to which Real Property Tax Law, Article 15-A is applicable), which are inconsistent with Article 15-A, became inapplicable when such article became effective, and no further inconsistent provisions may be enacted. Therefore, since section 1524 affords administrative review of an assessment to a dissatisfied taxpayer, a city charter section requiring a complaint to be filed with the assessor before the taxpayer may present his case to the board of assessment review is ineffective.

We have received an inquiry requesting our opinion as to the effect of the provisions of section 1524 of Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law on the assessment review procedure prescribed in a section of a city charter in a city to which Article 15-A is applicable.

It is clear that all provisions in the city charter which are inconsistent with the provisions of Article 15-A became inapplicable on October 1, 1971 (Real Property Tax Law, § 1560). Furthermore, no amendment to the charter can be adopted thereafter which is inconsistent with Article 15-A (Real Property Tax Law, § 1558).

A review and comparison of the assessment review procedures in the two respective laws shows that the section of the city charter conflicts with Article 15-A. The charter section provides that an aggrieved property owner must first make application to the assessor for his review, and, if dissatisfied with the determination of the assessor, may appear before the board of assessment review, which may hear only such complaints as have been denied by the assessor. Section 1524 of Article 15-A requires that each local government must have a board of assessment review to hear and determine complaints. The hearing required under section 1524 (and section 512 as incorporated in section 1524) clearly contemplates the right of a taxpayer to have an opportunity to be heard on his complaint at a meeting of the board held at the time and places fixed by it and set forth in the notice of tentative completion of the assessment roll. Presentation of a complaint to the assessor cannot be made a condition precedent for consideration of, or hearing on, a complaint by the board of assessment review.

This requirement, however, would not preclude the city assessor from informally reviewing complaints prior to the meeting of the board of assessment review and to make recommendations to the board of assessment review. In this regard it should be noted that pursuant to subdivision 3 of section 1524, the assessor is required to attend all hearings of the board of assessment review and has the right to be heard on any complaint. Furthermore, under the new correction procedure set forth in Title 3 of Article 5 of the Real Property Tax Law (L.1974, c.177) and specifically pursuant to section 552 thereof, an assessor either on his own or at the request of a property owner may submit a verified statement to the board of assessment review to correct certain clerical errors and unlawful entries appearing on a tentative assessment roll.

February 25, 1975