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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 16

Opinions of Counsel index

Conflict of interest (assessor - bank advisory board member) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1522:

Absent any prohibition in a municipality’s code of ethics, it is neither illegal nor unethical for a member of an advisory board of a bank doing business in the municipality to be elected or appointed to the office of assessor for such municipality.

Our opinion has been requested as to whether it is legal or ethical for a town assessor appointed pursuant to Real Property Tax Law, section 1522 to hold a position on the advisory board of a bank doing business in the town.

Our research has not discovered any common law or statutory prohibition precluding the appointment or election of a member of an advisory board of a bank doing business in a town to the office of town assessor for such town. It is to be noted that the Attorney General has held that absent any prohibition in a municipality’s code of ethics, no patent conflict of interest ensues from the appointment of a real estate broker to the position of town assessor (1972, Op. Atty.Gen. 135). As the Attorney General pointed out in this opinion, it is “unwarranted to assume, in advance of the event, that an assessor would take advantage of his office for his personal gain.”

Additionally, section 806 of the General Municipal Law mandates the adoption of a code of ethics by each county, city, town, village or school district, and section 808 of such law authorizes the establishment of local boards of ethics. In cases such as the given factual situation, an examination of the town code of ethics may be warranted. If a board of ethics has been established, the question may be submitted to that body.

Therefore, since we are in agreement with the opinion of the Attorney General, it is our opinion that, absent any prohibition in a town’s code of ethics, it is neither illegal nor unethical for a member of an advisory board of a bank doing business in the town to be elected or appointed to the office of assessor for such town.

August 13, 1974

Updated: