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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 55

Opinions of Counsel index

State aid (improved assessment administration) (plan not applicable to all parcels) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1572; 9 NYCRR Part 192:

A plan for improved assessment administration which complies with the State Board’s rules for collecting and maintaining real property valuation data and for maintaining records of real property transfers but which pertains only to certain classes of real property does not qualify for “15-B” aid payment number two.

Nassau County has applied for payment of State aid pursuant to RPTL, Article 15-B (see RPTL, §1572(l)(a)), on the basis of a plan for certain improvements in assessment administration which pertains only to real property in classes two and four (see, RPTL, §1802(1)). We are asked if such a plan qualifies for State aid.

Article 15-B of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) was enacted by chapter 887 of the Laws of 1977, one of three measures enacted that year as a “comprehensive program of Statewide reform of real property tax administration” (Governor’s Approval Memorandum) {*}.  The impetus for this legislation was the decision in Hellerstein v. Assessor of the Town of Islip, 37 N.Y.2d 1, 332 N.E.2d 279, 371 N.Y.S.2d 388 (1975), in which the Court of Appeals held that despite long standing and widespread practices to the contrary, former section 306 (repealed L.1981, c.1057) required all real property in each assessing unit to be assessed at full value. Article 15-B was enacted to assist localities in complying with the Hellerstein decision by providing State aid for a “fully implemented system of real property tax administration conforming to minimum standards established by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment” (Governor’s Approval Message, emphasis added).

Pursuant to that program, State aid of up to $10 per parcel is available to each assessing unit “for the implementation of a system of real property tax administration” which conforms to the minimum standards established by the State Board (§1572(1); see, 9 NYCRR Part 192). Payment of $3 per parcel is authorized for submission of a plan which complies with the standards for collecting and maintaining real property valuation data and for maintaining records of real property transfers (§1572(l)(a)). Subdivision 2 of section 1572 provides that “[t]he number of parcels to be used in the computation of state assistance provided in this section shall be the number of separately assessed parcels appearing on the assessment roll on behalf of which application is made . . .” (emphasis added).

The minimum standards for compliance to receive this payment of State aid are set forth in section 192-1.2 of the State Board’s rules. Numerous provisions of this section make clear that the plan must apply to all the property within an assessing unit (see, 9 NYCRR 192-1.2(a)(4); (a)(5)(i), (ii), (vi), (vii), (viii); (e); (g)). In particular, subdivision (g) of section 192-1.2 provides, in part, that:

(g) Deliverable documents and reports. The system and procedures described in this section shall be capable of delivering the following:

(1) a current record showing the required data items;

(2) a comparable sales report for each residential parcel in the assessing unit which is capable of showing at least five recently sold comparable parcels;

(3) a sales ratio study showing the ratio of sale prices to assessed values of recently sold parcels in the assessing unit;

(4) a listing of estimates of values of each parcel in the assessing unit as of a common date; * * * (emphasis added).

As should be apparent, the submitted plan would not be capable of satisfying either paragraph (2) or paragraph (4) of subdivision (g), the former because “residential parcels” are class one in Nassau County and the latter because that paragraph includes property in classes one and three as well as the two classes subject to the plan.

We also note that the enactment of RPTL, Article 15-B and the promulgation of the rules pre-date the enactment of chapter 1057 of the Laws of 1981. Chapter 1057 repealed section 306, the full value standard of assessment, and replaced it with a section 305, a uniform fractional standard of assessment. Chapter 1057 also authorized special assessing units, such as Nassau County, to establish separate tax rates for each of four classes of real property, but it did not amend RPTL, Article 15-B.

In sum, the legislative history of RPTL, Article 15-B, and the language used in both that statute and the rules implementing it indicate that in order to receive the payment in question, the plan must apply to all property in the assessing unit. Accordingly, in our opinion, Nassau County does not qualify for payment of State aid for a plan which applies only to properties in classes two and four.

June 4, 1985


{*}  The other two measures were chapters 888 and 889 which, respectively, imposed a moratorium on compliance with former RPTL, §306, and established the Temporary State Commission on the Real Property Tax.

Updated: