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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 34

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (salaries) (reimbursement) - Town Law, § 116:

Town assessors may be reimbursed for actual and necessary mileage driven in their private automobiles while performing their duties as assessor.

In many towns, it is common for the assessor to use his or her personal vehicle in field work. We are asked whether towns may reimburse assessors for mileage.

Town Law, section 116, provides authority for a town to make certain payments to its officers in addition to the salary fixed for the office (5 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 3). Subdivision 1 of section 116 provides that a town board may incur obligations “for all expenses necessarily incurred for the use and benefit of the town. . . .” That subdivision also provides that “a town board may reimburse” all expenses necessarily incurred and paid by any town officer or employee in executing the duties of his office or position, including actual and necessary expenses for travel” incurred by authority of the town board. This statute further provides that in the alternative a town may authorize a reasonable mileage allowance for the use of an officer’s private automobile for each mile actually and necessarily traveled by him in the performance of his duties.

As is evident from the above, reimbursement is contingent upon the expenses being necessarily incurred for the use and benefit of the town. Once that is established, the town is authorized and obligated to audit and allow the claim. In lieu thereof, the town may opt to provide for a mileage allowance. It should also be observed that there is no distinction as to whether the expenses are incurred within or outside the town (1981 Op.State Compt. 81-161).

January 6, 1989