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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 91

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessors, Board of (hours of work) (location of office) - Real Property Tax Law, § 526; Town Law, § 64:

Pursuant to State law, a town board has the authority to determine the location of the office of the town’s board of assessors. Pursuant to local law, the town board may require the board of assessors to maintain regular office hours.

We have been asked whether a town board may require the town’s elected board of assessors to work a certain number of hours and whether the town board may determine the assessors’ office and records location.

As to assessors’ offices and records, section 64(3) of the Town Law provides that the town board has the management, custody and control of town lands, buildings and property. This includes the power to determine where town records, including assessment records, and assessors’ offices are to be maintained (Op.State Compt. 80-285). We encourage town boards to keep public records, including assessment records, in a public place, such as the town office building or a town hall, which has sufficient space to house such records.

As to office hours, the law is less precise. Section 501 of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) requires the assessor to publish notice each year that the assessment inventory has been completed and is available for review on an appointment basis (9 NYCRR 190-1.2(b)). Neither law nor rule specifies the hours for inventory review or that the assessor must be personally available when the inventory is reviewed.

On the other hand, section 526 of the RPTL requires assessors to be in attendance with the tentative assessment roll at a place and time specified in the published notice of completion of the tentative roll. Specifically, the assessor or the assessor’s designee must be available for a period of at least four hours, not necessarily continuous, between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., on at least four days between the date of publication of the notice of filing of the tentative assessment roll (i.e., usually on or about May 1 (RPTL, § 506(1); 9 NYCRR 190-1.4(i)), and the date the board of assessment review meets to hear complaints on that roll (i.e., usually the fourth Tuesday in May (RPTL, § 512(1))). Two of the four days must be at least 10 days subsequent to the filing of the tentative roll and one of these two days must be Saturday (RPTL, § 526(2); 9 NYCRR 190-1.4(k)).

For towns of the first class (i.e., generally those with populations of 10,000 or more), which must have an appointed assessor (Town Law, § 20; 9 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 88), the town board may require the assessor to keep such office hours as the town board shall determine (Town Law, § 33(1)). Indeed, for appointed assessors in general, we have previously expressed the opinion that a town board may determine work hours of the assessor (6 Op.Counsel SBEA Nos. 63, 65).

For elected assessors in towns of the second class, in our opinion, the board of assessors may determine its own office hours, subject to the requirements of section 526, discussed above. We are also of the opinion, however, that, pursuant to its home rule powers, the town board may adopt a local law prescribing office hours for the board of assessors (Municipal Home Rule Law, §10(1)(ii)(a)(1); 6 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 88).

August 18, 1989
Revised March 22, 1993