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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 25

Opinions of Counsel index

State of New York exemption (land under water) (sanitary sewer charge) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(15), 404; Westchester Administrative Code, § 168:

State-owned land under the waters of the Hudson River is not liable for the sanitary sewer charge imposed by the North Yonkers Westchester County Trunk Sewer District.

          Our opinion has been requested as to whether or not state-owned land under the waters of the Hudson River located in the North Yonkers Westchester County Trunk Sewer District is liable for the sanitary sewer charge imposed on behalf of that district.

A few years ago the question of liability of state-owned lands for charges imposed under the Westchester County Sanitary Sewer law was exhaustively researched. Rather than reproduce the lengthy opinion letter resulting from that research, we shall merely give our conclusions as related to this fact situation.

1. The Westchester County Sanitary Sewer Tax is a “special ad valorem levy” as defined in subdivision 15 of section 102 of the Real Property Tax Law when imposed on property located outside cities in Westchester County.

2. Under the provisions of section 168 of the Westchester Administrative Code only parcels “such as may belong to the United States or be used as a cemetery or property acquired by the state or county for park or parkway purposes” are exempt from the Westchester Sanitary Sewer Tax. Therefore, under such section 168 all state-owned lands except park and parkway lands would appear to be liable for the sewer tax.

3. Irrespective of the above, the State Comptroller does not pay special ad valorem levies imposed on any state-owned lands (other than those expressly made liable therefor under Title 2 of Article 5 of the Real Property Tax Law), following an Attorney General’s opinion given in 1953 (1953, Op.Atty.Gen. 203).

Our conclusion is, therefore, that the State Comptroller is not legally obligated to pay this charge levied on state-owned lands under water and that he in practice will not do so.

July 5, 1972

Updated: