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Volume 6 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 54

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (residency) (effect of Article 15-A on inconsistent general law) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 1522, 1560; Town Law, § 23:

An assessor appointed pursuant to section 1522 of the Real Property Tax Law need not be a resident of the assessing unit by which he or she is appointed.

We have been asked whether an appointed assessor must be a resident of the assessing unit by which he is employed. An opinion of the State Comptroller (9 Op.State Compt. 85) answers this question in the affirmative.

That opinion of the State Comptroller construed section 23 of the Town Law as requiring the appointment of a town resident as the town assessor. The provisions of section 23 have since been superseded, however, by an amendment of the Real Property Tax Law. That amendment, section 1522, provides for the appointment to the position of assessor of any resident of the State if he or she is otherwise eligible for appointment to the position of assessor.

Section 1522 was but one section of the 1970 enactment of Article 15-A of the Real Property Tax Law, generally referred to as the Assessment Improvement Law. Section 1520 provides that Article 15-A is applicable to all counties, cities and towns with the power to assess real property for the purpose of taxation unless the context otherwise requires. A further provision of Article 15-A, section 1560, states that inconsistent general, special and local laws are inapplicable to municipalities to which Article 15-A applies.

In addition to the specific declarations of section 1560, the Legislature enacted section 576 of the Real Property Tax Law (L.1970, c.636) which authorizes municipalities to enter into cooperative agreements to provide for the appointment of one person to hold the office of assessor in each of those municipalities. Since a person may have only one legal “residence” (see general discussion in 5 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 5), section 576 relieves consenting municipalities of any requirement that the assessor be a resident thereof.

Therefore, to the extent that section 23 of the Town Law is inconsistent with section 1522, it has now been superseded, and the opinion of the State Comptroller is no longer applicable. (In 3 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 14, however, we indicated that the broad residency rule of section 1522 was permissive and that it could be made more restrictive by a local civil service commission.)

April 18, 1979

Updated: