Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 60
Board of assessment review (composition) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 552, 1524:
Assessing units should make every effort to recruit an independent board of review. If a board of assessment review fails to meet, the county treasurer, the chairman of the board of supervisors, and the clerk of the board of supervisors are empowered to function as a board of assessment review.
Our opinion has been requested concerning the difficulties some assessing units have in finding persons to accept appointment to the board of assessment review.
Under the provisions of Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law, towns and cities are required to appoint independent boards of review, and although several assessing units have indicated that they are having some difficulty recruiting members to serve on this board, it is the responsibility of the local officials to continue efforts to find appointees. As to the question about what happens if an assessing unit fails to appoint a duly constituted board of review as required by law, section 552 of the Real Property Tax Law contains provisions to cover situations where a board of review fails to meet for purposes of hearing complaints:
“§ 552. Failure to meet for purposes of hearing complaints
“If the board of review of any assessing unit fails to meet for the purpose of hearing complaints in relation to assessments on the day specified by law, any person claiming to be aggrieved by an assessment may, within ten days from such day, file a complaint as provided in section five hundred twelve of this chapter with the clerk of the board of supervisors. Not later than the day specified by law for the final completion of the assessment roll, the county treasurer, the chairman of the board of supervisors and the clerk of the board of supervisors, acting as a board of review with all the powers and duties of a board of review as provided in section five hundred twelve of this chapter, shall upon ten days’ notice to the person claiming to be aggrieved hear such complaint and determine the assessment of the real property concerned.”
Some assessing units have been able to recruit public spirited individuals by contacting various service organizations such as the Rotary, the Elks and other similar organizations which encourage their membership to become involved in civic affairs and to become actively engaged in efforts to assist local governments.
We suggest that assessing units continue their efforts to recruit an independent board of review and if they are unsuccessful, that, in the interest of fair play and good public relations, they notify property owners by means of a newspaper article or a public notice of the opportunity to obtain a review of their assessments pursuant to section 552.
April 14, 1972