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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 77

Opinions of Counsel index

Board of Assessors (powers and duties) - General Construction Law, § 41; Property Tax Law, §§ 102(3), 14:

It is not necessary that each parcel of real property be viewed and appraised by each member of a three-man board of assessors. It is proper for a three-man board of assessors to assign specific areas of the assessing unit to each member and for each to submit appraisals at a meeting of the board. Likewise, appraisers may be employed to perform field appraisals and to submit their appraisals to the board for final action by it.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether it is proper for two members of a three-man board of assessors to inspect and appraise properties for purposes of local real property taxation.

          Section 102(3) of the Real Property Tax Law defines assessors as meaning an elected or appointed officer or body of officers charged by law with the duty of assessing real property for the purpose of taxation or special ad valorem levies, for county, city, town, village, school district or special district purposes.

Section 41 of the General Construction Law provides:

“Whenever three or more public officers are given any power or authority, or three or more persons are charged with any public duty to be performed or exercised by them jointly or as a board or similar body, a majority of the whole number of such persons or officers, at a meeting duly held at a time fixed by law, or by any by-law duly adopted by such board or body, or at any duly adjourned meeting of such meeting, or at any meeting duly held upon reasonable notice to all of them, shall constitute a quorum and not less than a majority of the whole number may perform and exercise such power, authority or duty. For the purpose of this provision the words ‘whole number’ shall be construed to mean the total number which the board, commission, body or other group of persons or officers would have were there no vacancies and were none of the persons or officers disqualified from acting.”

The Court of Appeals decided, as early as 1854, in the case of People ex rel. Mygatt v. Supervisors of Chenango, 11 N.Y. 563, that assessments may be made or changed by a majority vote of the total number of assessors provided the meeting at which such assessments are made or changed is duly called in accordance with any rule which may have been adopted by the board of assessors.

Section 514 of the Real Property Tax Law specifically provides that the final assessment roll may be verified by the assessors or a majority of them. Therefore, it would be proper procedure for a three-man board of assessors to assign specific areas of the assessing unit to each member and for each to submit appraisals at any meeting of the board. However, the assessment to be placed on the assessment roll must be determined by a vote of at least a majority of the members of the board of assessors.

Therefore, it is not necessary that each parcel of real property be viewed and appraised by each member of a board of assessors. In fact, it would be proper for a board of assessors to employ appraisers to perform the field appraisal duties and to submit appraisals to the board for final action by it.

November 20, 1972

Updated: