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Volume 9 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 37

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (appointment of corporation as assessor) - Public Officers Law, § 3; Real Property Tax Law, §§ 310, 572:

A town may not appoint a corporation to be its assessor.

Section 310 of the Real Property Tax Law and section 20 of the Town Law require each town to have an assessor. Local governments, except for those which opted to retain elected boards of assessors pursuant to former section 1556 of the RPTL, must have one appointed assessor.

Section 572 of the RPTL authorizes counties, cities, towns and villages to employ experts to appraise property for the assistance of assessors. However, it remains the responsibility of the assessor to make the final determination of the proper assessment for a parcel (RPTL, §102(3); Samuels v. Town of Clarkson, 91 A.D.2d 837, 458 N.Y.S.2d 393 (4th Dept. 1982); 1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 39). Section 572 does not supersede either section 310 of the Real Property Tax Law or section 20 of the Town Law, requiring that each Town have an assessor.

The qualifications for holding a public office are contained in section 3(1) of the Public Officers Law. “No person shall be capable of holding a civil office who shall not...have attained the age of eighteen years [and be] a resident of the political subdivision or municipal corporation of the state for which he shall be chosen....” Clearly, this provision describes a human being and not a corporation.

The State Comptroller analyzed a similar situation in Op. St.Compt. 64-920. There the question was whether a town could authorize a bank to collect its taxes. The Comptroller, finding no statutory authority to replace a statutory public officer with a corporation, determined that such authorization would be improper. Similarly, appointing a corporation as assessor would be improper.

Accordingly, we conclude that a town may not appoint a corporation as town assessor.

March 14, 1990

Updated: