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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 36

Opinions of Counsel index

Housing exemption (liability for special assessments) - Public Housing Law, § 52:

An in lieu of tax agreement between a housing authority and a village does not affect the liability of the public housing authority project for special assessments of a county sewer district.

The question has been asked as to whether an in lieu of tax agreement between a housing authority and a village affects the liability of public housing authority projects for special assessments of a county sewer district.

In our opinion, a municipality cannot by agreement alter or affect the liability of property for taxes or special assessments unless expressly authorized to do so by state law. One court stated the long established principle of law as follows (Troy Union R. Co. v. City of Troy, 132 Misc. 534, 230 N.Y.S. 653, 661):

. . . It is well established in the law that a municipality exercises merely delegated powers from the state to levy and collect taxes. It has no power to grant exemptions from taxation nor to make contracts looking to that result. Brooklyn, Q.C. & S.R. Co. v. City of New York, 229 N.Y. 260, 266, 128 N.E. 231; People ex rel. Sweet, Supervisor, v. Board of Supervisors of St. Lawrence County, 101 App. Div. 327, 91 N.Y.S. 948; Dillon on Municipal Corporations (5th Ed.) § 1610; Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co. v. Union Pac. Ry. Co. (C.C.) 47 F. 15, 21.

Section 52 of the Public Housing Law, the section which controls the tax exemption of municipal housing authority projects, does not exempt those projects from the payment of “special assessments” (3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 42). Thus, the liability of projects for charges imposed on behalf of the county sewer district is not affected by, and cannot be affected by, this agreement.

August 21, 1974

Updated: