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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 76

Opinions of Counsel index

Director of Real Property Tax Services (Civil Service classification) (term of office) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1530:

Pursuant to chapter 12 of the laws of 1972, effective February 8, 1972, the position of county director of real property tax services is classified non-competitive except where the county legislative body determines that the position is to be full-time and such body requests that the position be classified in the competitive class. Positions classified in the competitive class and encumbered by a permanent appointment before the effective date of the aforementioned amendment are not affected thereby. The term of office of a director of real property tax services is six years, commencing October 1, 1971, and every sixth year thereafter. Therefore, should a vacancy occur for any reason, a successor may be appointed only for the balance of the unexpired term of his predecessor.

We have received an inquiry concerning the position of county director of real property tax services established under section 1530 of Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law.

In the inquiry presented, the governing body of a county created a county real property tax service agency as of October 1, 1971, and established the position of county director of real property tax services in the classified civil service, for which the county manager was to make an appointment to a six-year term commencing on October 1, 1971. Such appointment was made by letter dated August 3, 1971. The appointee subsequently took a written examination for the position which he passed. The question concerns the appointee’s present civil service status and term of office.

Section 1530 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that in each county, with certain exceptions, there shall be a real property tax service agency. The head of the agency shall be the director of real property tax services to be appointed by the county legislative body, or county executive or manager where such persons have the power to appoint department heads. The director of real property tax services “shall have a six-year term of office commencing on October first, nineteen hundred seventy-one and on October first of each sixth year thereafter.” Subdivision 2 of section 1530, as originally enacted (L.1970, c.957), provided that the position of director of real property tax services is to be in the classified civil service. The State civil service commission had determined that the position be a competitive class position for which a written competitive examination had been scheduled in January, 1972. Pursuant to the provisions of section 65 of the Civil Service Law, whenever there is no appropriate eligible list available for filling a vacancy in the competitive class, a person may be appointed by non-competitive examination to fill such vacancy until a selection and appointment can be made after competitive examination. Generally, a provisional appointee does not acquire any rights to the position to which he is appointed and such appointment may be terminated at any time by the appointing authority.

Effective February 8, 1972, subdivision 2 of section 1530 was amended (L.1972, c.12) to provide that the position of director of real property tax services be classified non-competitive except where the county legislative body determines the position to be full-time and such body requests that the position be classified in the competitive class. The amendment excepted from its application those county director positions heretofore classified in the competitive class and encumbered by a permanent appointment to such position.

In the example, the incumbent was appointed on a provisional basis to the position of county director of real property tax services, which at that time was classified competitive, for a term commencing October 1, 1971. On February 8, by amendment to section 1530, the position was classified non-competitive which apparently is the present status in the county in question since the county legislative body took no action to have the position classified competitive. Therefore, it would follow that the incumbent holds a non-competitive position as county director.

However, pursuant to the above discussed amendment the county legislative body has the option of classifying the position competitive. Should the position be so classified it could be filled on a competitive basis using the results of the examination held in January. If the county does not intend to change the classification of the position, it is nonetheless recommended that a further resolution be adopted stating that the position is non-competitive, which should be followed up by formal appointive action of the county manager.

The term of office of the director of real property tax services set forth in section 1530 is a six-year term commencing on October 1, 1971. A new six-year term will commence on October 1, 1977. Thus, it has been stated that should a vacancy occur for any reason, a successor may be appointed only for the balance of the unexpired six-year term. Therefore, should a county elect to change the classification status, or should action be taken to clarify the existing status of the position, reference should be made to the term to expire September 30, 1977.

It should be noted that local civil service commissions or personnel officers have the responsibility of administering local examinations, of evaluating the training and experience of candidates for examination and appointment, and of determining in each case whether the minimum qualification standards for the position established by this Board have been satisfied.

November 28, 1972

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