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Towns Changing from Three Member Boards of Elected Assessors

[See attached PDF] 

Below is an information packet on the subject of changing from a board of elected assessors to a single assessor. The changing assessor profile in New York shows a steady decline in the percentage of municipalities retaining three member boards of elected assessors. In 1983, half of the municipalities retained elected boards. Today, the trend favors appointed assessors, with less than 6% of municipalities retaining elected boards and more than 94% opting for appointed assessors. The links below provide additional information on the subject.

  1. Advantages of Sole Assessor, prepared by Educational Services.
  2. Comparison of Elected and Appointed Assessor Positions (chart) prepared by Educational Services.
  3. Real Property Tax Law:  §310 which addresses assessors generally;  §328 which addresses the single appointed assessor option;  §329 which addresses the sole elected assessor option.
  4. Sole Appointed Assessor Appointment and Certification Information prepared by Educational Services. This includes section 8188-2.2 of the 20 NYCRR 8188: minimum qualification standards for appointed assessors.
  5. Application for Qualifications Review Form for appointed assessors. (Applicants must meet qualification standards before appointment to office.)
  6. Job of the Assessor, prepared by the Office of Real Property Tax Services
  7. Map of NYS depicting towns as appointed or elected.

We hope this information will be of service to you. Any questions on the procedure to be followed should be directed to your Municipal Attorney.

Advantages of Sole Assessor

Sharing Assessor Options

Many jurisdictions employ assessors who already work in one or more municipalities. More than 45 percent of the nearly 1000 towns and cities in New York State share an assessor.

More information on this subject follows.

  1. One Person
    • Authority vested in one person instead of diffused by quorum decision of three-member elected board.
    • Focus on exactly who to see about assessments.
  2. Consistent Approach to Assessing
    • One instead of three interpretations of:
      • Real Property Tax Law
      • Opinions of Legal Counsel
      • Rules for Real Property Tax Administration
      • Assessment procedures
      • Exemption criteria
      • Recent court decisions
    • Sole appointed assessor has a direct responsibility to the town board.
  3. Longer Term of Office (six years rather than four years)
    • Time to become acquainted with and keep up with the Real Property Tax Law (constantly changing)
    • Time to become acquainted with all real estate in town
    • Time to become proficient at appraising all forms of real estate including the more difficult types
    • Time to complete the required basic course of training
    • Time to take continuing education courses
  4. Qualification and Continuing Education Requirements
    • Appointed assessors must meet minimum qualifications standards of education and experience, as described in the 20 NYCRR 8188, section 8188-2.2. Elected assessors, whether sole elected or members of a board of assessors, must meet age and residency requirements.
    • Members of elected boards of assessors must complete only a basic course of training. The continuing education program is not required.
    • After earning basic certification, appointed assessors and sole elected assessors must complete an average of 12 credits of approved continuing education training each year.
    • All assessors must become recertified upon re-appointment or re-election to office by completed approved ethics training within a year of their re-appointment or re-election to office.
  5. Professional Appointed Assessor
    • Appointed assessors have chosen his/her field as a career and are thereby a professional. For elected assessors, the position is often used as a stepping-stone to another office - meaning voters must be kept friendly.
    • Elected assessors who must run every four years are not as insulated from political pressures as appointed assessors.
  6. Increased Remuneration
    • Potential for increased remuneration for a sole assessor and therefore motivation to both take the job and to stay in office longer
    • Salary should be commensurate with time and effort spent
    • More time could be spent on improving assessments
  7. Control of Office and Field Time Simplified.
  8. Overall Savings to Town
    • More efficient for:
      • Mileage
      • Training
      • Administration
    • More towns have opted for "sole" advantage:
      • the majority of NYS municipalities have a single assessor
      • every year, the number of towns opting for "sole" increases
    • Opting for sole assessor would reduce assessor turnover. Since 1989, the statewide turnover rate for elected assessors is 40% greater than for appointed assessors.
  9. Better Assessing Practices and More Equity
    • Fair share of tax burden
    • Impact on State aid formulas and thus distribution of aid

 
Comparison of Elected and Appointed Assessor Positions
 
Single Appointed

Sole Elected
Elected to Three
Member Board
Length of Term 6 years 6 years 4 years
Current term dates Oct. 1, 2013 - Sept. 30, 2019 Jan. 1, 2012 - Dec. 31, 2017 1/01/16 - 12/31/19
(2 members)
1/01/17 - 12/31/20
(1 member)
Qualifications Must meet experience and education standards pursuant to §8188-2.2 of the 20 NYCRR 8188. Must meet residency and age requirements. Must meet residency and age requirements.
Basic Required Training Must earn State Certified Assessor designation. Recertification required upon re-appointment to office. Must earn State Certified Assessor designation. Recertification required upon re-election to office. Must earn State Certified Assessor designation. Recertification required upon re-election to office.
Required Continuing Education Training Continuing Education requirement of 12 credits per year. Continuing Education requirement of 12  credits per year. Continuing Education training is optional.
Method of Acquiring Office Appointed by Municipal Board. Professional, career-oriented position. Must run for elective office in locality. Subject to voter approval. Must run for elective office in locality. Subject to voter approval.

 

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