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Volume 7 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 5

Opinions of Counsel index

Compatibility of office (deputy director of county real property tax services - assessor) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 1522, 1532:

A deputy director of county real property tax services may not hold the office of assessor in the county which he serves, since he may be required to perform the duties of director in the event of the latter’s absence or inability to act, and the offices of director and assessor are incompatible.

We have been asked whether the offices of deputy director of real property tax services and elected assessor are compatible. In 6 Op. Counsel SBEA No. 39, we concluded that the office of county director of real property tax services and assessor in the same county are incompatible. We also stated that whether a similar incompatibility exists for an employee of the county real property tax service agency depends on the facts of the particular situation.

The duties of county director of real property tax services and the minimum qualifications for appointment to that office have been established pursuant to law and rule (Real Property Tax Law, §1532; 9 NYCRR 188.15 through 188.17, respectively). There is no provision of law or administrative rule specifically providing for the office of deputy director of real property tax services. However, section 401 of the County Law provides that the board of supervisors may authorize certain county officers to appoint one or more deputies who are to perform any duties not inconsistent with law which are assigned to them by the appointing officer. In addition, this section provides that where there is but one deputy, he is to possess the powers and perform the duties of his principal during the absence or inability of the principal to act.

Clearly then, at such time as the deputy director of real property tax services functions as the county director of real property tax services, an incompatibility of office exists in accordance with the aforementioned Opinion. Whether an incompatibility exists at other times depends on the specific duties carried out by the deputy. However, since a specific function of the office is to possess the powers and perform the duties of the county director, during the latter’s absence or inability to act, we believe it is inadvisable for a deputy director to also serve as an elected assessor, as those offices would be incompatible any time the deputy had to act as the director.

January 2, 1980

Updated: