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Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 78

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (term of office) (indefinite term) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1522:

Where an assessor is appointed to an “indefinite term” pursuant to subdivision 6 of section 1522 of the Real Property Tax Law, he is not subject to a fixed term and may be dismissed for “just cause” as provided for in subdivision 7 of such section.

We have been asked to clarify the words “indefinite term” which appear in subdivision 6 of section 1522 of Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law enacted by chapter 957 of the Laws of 1970, and commonly referred to as the “Assessment Improvement Law.”

Such subdivision provides for “an indefinite term (a) where the office of assessor is a full-time position as determined by the local legislative body and on or after August first, nineteen hundred seventy is classified in the competitive class of the civil service at the request of the local legislative body and (b) where on July thirty-first, nineteen hundred seventy the office of assessor is classified in the competitive class of the civil service and has an indefinite term pursuant to law.”

Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law provides for six-year terms of office for appointed assessors (§ 1522(2) ). Such appointive position is in the classified civil service (§ 1522(3)) and the position may be either competitive or noncompetitive. The obvious intent of subdivision 6 of section 1522, quoted above, is to provide an exception to the six-year term provided for by the “Assessment Improvement Law.” Therefore, under that subdivision, the assessor has an indefinite term where the position was classified competitive with an indefinite term of office on July 31, 1970 or where, on or after August 1, 1970, a local legislative body or town board determines that the position is a full-time position and requests that the position be classified competitive. A person holding an indefinite term position continues in office. While the words “indefinite term” are used, in practical application the appointment is not subject to a fixed term, but rather is an indefinite appointment subject to removal for “just cause” as provided in subdivision 7 of section 1522.

December 19, 1973

Updated: