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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 88

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (appointment in town of first class) (effect of Federal census) - Real Property Tax Law, § 310; Town Law, § 11:

When, in the 1990 Federal census, the population of a town of the second class exceeded 10,000, it became a town of the first class on January 1,1992 and the town was required to appoint a sole appointed assessor to a term beginning on that date.

We have been asked for our interpretation of section 11 of the Town Law. Briefly, subdivision one of that section provides, in pertinent part, that when the population of a town of the second class exceeds 10,000 in a decennial Federal census, as shown by an authenticated statement of the Secretary of State, the town becomes a town of the first class “effective on the first day of January succeeding the next biennial election held in said town.” Section 20 of the Town Law requires a town of the first class to have one appointed assessor.

We interpret these provisions to mean that a town whose population first exceeded 10,000 in the 1990 Federal census became a town of the first class on January 1, 1992, since the Federal census was being completed in early 1991, and the next biennial town election was November, 1991.

In an informal opinion (1971, Op.Atty.Gen. (Inf.) 83), the Attorney General analyzed the relationship between Town Law, section 11, and former section 1556 of the Real Property Tax Law, which authorized municipalities with elected assessors to adopt a local law retaining those offices. That Opinion tacitly adopts our reading of the statute, stating that the town in question would become a town of the first class on January 1, 1972.

In regard to the continuation of the office of elected assessor in a town that becomes a town of the first class. Town Law, section 11(5)(a), provides that the elected office of assessor should not have appeared on the November, 1991, ballot, that the terms of the incumbent elected assessors expired on January 1, 1992, and that, on or after that date, the town should have appointed a sole assessor. The new appointed assessor’s term runs until September 30, 1995 (RPTL, § 310 (2)).

March 7, 1991