Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 63
Tax maps (responsibilities of municipalities) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1534; 9 NYCRR 185.18:
Counties must prepare and maintain tax maps for all cities and towns within the county by October 1, 1979 which meet the requirements of rules and regulations adopted by the State Board in 1971. The county is required to utilize existing city, town or village tax maps to the extent practicable and to provide compensation therefor measured by the actual reduction of cost to the county in using the existing map to prepare the county tax map.
Where there is a delay in a county program, a city or town may proceed independently. In that case the sole responsibility for preparation and maintenance rests with the city or town.
We have received an inquiry relating to the responsibilities of a county and the cities and towns located in the county in a tax mapping program. These questions relate to cities or towns which may have tax maps prepared years ago, and cities and towns which may wish to proceed independently to produce new tax maps under the new rules and regulations adopted by this Board in 1971.
Chapter 957 of the Laws of 1970 ( § 4) provides that counties shall prepare and complete tax maps by October 1, 1979 as required by Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law. Article 15-A was added to the Real Property Tax Law by Chapter 957. Section 1534 of Article 15-A specifies that counties are to prepare and maintain tax maps for each city and town within the county. This section further specifies in subdivision 2 that in preparing tax maps a county shall utilize existing tax maps and “[t]he county shall compensate the city, town or village for such existing map or similar map upon the basis of the amount by which the cost of preparing the county tax map for the area in the city, town or village is reduced as a result of the utilization of such map.” To assist a county in the preparation of tax maps, section 2 of chapter 957 authorizes the payment of state aid to a county for the preparation of tax maps for cities and towns located within the county. Section 1542 of Article 15-A directs the State Board to establish rules and regulations for the preparation and maintenance of tax maps and to approve tax maps meeting the requirements contained therein. The rules and regulations adopted by the State Board in 1971 contemplate a county tax map program, and also authorize cities, towns and villages to prepare tax maps pursuant to such rules and regulations (9 NYCRR 185.18).
Therefore, the law clearly mandates that counties are to prepare tax maps for all cities and towns within the county by October 1, 1979 and to maintain the tax maps so prepared. Thus, the initial and continuing responsibility in this area rests with the county. It is apparent that this procedure is most expedient administratively, and it would also appear to be most efficient economically. In preparing such tax maps the county is required to utilize existing tax maps to the extent practicable. The county is required to compensate a city, town or village for an existing map which may have been prepared some time ago. The amount of compensation is to be measured by the actual reduction of cost to the county in using the existing map to prepare the county tax map.
The immediate value to a locality of an adequately prepared tax map is recognized. Therefore, where there is a delay in a county program, a municipality may wish to proceed independently. In that case the sole responsibility for preparation and maintenance rests with the city or town (see, 9 NYCRR 185.18). However, before taking such action the municipality should consult with the county to determine the feasibility of proceeding independently. Such action would avoid any questions which may arise later with respect to compensation which may be made to a locality for its map. Once a county has embarked on a tax map program, or if a county is planning to embark on such a program within the immediate future, it would appear to be inadvisable and a duplication of effort for a city or town to proceed independently in preparing a tax map for such city or town unless it can be demonstrated that such map may be completely integrated in a county program. In any event, the compensation to be paid by the county to the city or town for a map so prepared would not necessarily be the actual cost expended by the city or town but rather must be limited, as set forth in the law, to the amount by which the cost of preparing a map for such city or town under a county program would be reduced.
January 10, 1974