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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 91

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessing unit (village) (use of town rolls) (equalization) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(1), 305, 1402:

A village assessing unit which uses the assessment rolls of two towns in which it is located must adjust the assessments on either or both rolls to satisfy the statutory standard of assessment. It may not calculate separate tax rates for the two towns, nor may it equalize the levels of assessment by applying the town’s respective State equalization rates to their total assessed values.

A question has been presented concerning a village which is an assessing unit and which is located in two towns. The village uses the town rolls as the basis for village assessments, as authorized by subdivision 2 of section 1402 of the Real Property Tax Law [RPTL]. The two towns have significantly different levels of assessment, as evidenced by their respective State equalization rates. The Village proposes to establish different tax rates for the two town portions, but this is contrary to an Opinion of the Attorney General (1975 Op.Atty.Gen. 328).

As a general rule, a village is an “assessing unit” within the meaning of subdivision one of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law [RPTL]. In each assessing unit (including village assessing units), real property must be “assessed at a uniform percentage of value” (RPTL, § 305(2)). Pursuant to subdivision one of section 1402 of the RPTL, village assessors are required to prepare the village assessment roll in the same manner and form as is required for the preparation of a town assessment roll. Pursuant to subdivision two of section 1402, a village board of trustees may adopt a resolution to authorize the village “assessors to use the assessment roll of the county or town of the current year as the basis for the [village] assessment so far as practicable”.

Whether village assessors prepare their own assessment roll (pursuant to § 1402(1)) or use the town roll (pursuant to § 1402(2)), the village assessment roll must comply with the statutory standard of assessment set forth above. Where the village is split between two towns assessing at different percentages of full value and the town rolls are used in accordance with section 1402(2), the village assessors must adjust the town assessments for village use. Thus, for example, where a village is located in portions of two towns, one of which is generally assessing at 25% of full value, and the other at 75%, in order to use those town rolls pursuant to section 1402(2), the village assessors will need to change the assessments appearing on one or both of the town rolls in order to create a village assessment roll complying with section 305(2); see, People ex rel. International Hydro-Electric Corporation v. Podvin, 171 Misc. 785, 14 N.Y.S.2d 476 (Sup.Ct., Saratoga Co. 1939)). There is no authority for the village to incorporate the non-uniform town assessments into the village assessment roll and then use two different village tax rates in an effort to equitably distribute the tax burden. Nor is there any provision of law comparable to section 1314 of the RPTL which provides for the equalization of levels of assessment for the levy of taxes by school districts located in two or more towns (or cities).

April 12, 1985