Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 120
Board of assessment review (appointments) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1524:
A village assessor should not be appointed to the board of review of the town in which the village is located.
Our opinion has been requested as to whether a village assessor may be appointed to the board of review of the town in which the village is located.
A person may hold more than one public office at the same time, provided there is no expressed statutory prohibition against holding the dual offices, and provided further, the offices are not of such a nature as to be incompatible. Incompatibility usually exists where there is a conflict of duties so that the performance of one job interferes with the performance of duties of the other. To be incompatible, there must be some inconsistency in the functions of office; that is, some conflicts in the duties required of the officer.
The primary function of an assessor is to determine the full value of real property, whereas the primary function of a member of a board of review is to hear and to decide complaints concerning the assessor’s determination as to full value. Except as to complaints grounded upon illegality, the question of full value of the subject property is almost always before the board of review.
Section 1524 of the Real Property Tax Law provides that neither the (town) assessor nor any member of his staff may be appointed to the (town) board of assessment review. The primary purpose of this provision is to completely separate the functions of assessing real property in the first instance and reviewing such assessments. In reviewing complaints, the board of review is required to base its determination upon the evidence submitted to it by the complainant and by the assessor. Since the village assessor, in assessing property for village purposes, has already made a determination as to the full value of real property located within the village, he would come to the board of review with a predetermined opinion as to one of the most important issues pending before the board of review and it would be difficult, at best, for anyone in such a position to make a decision based solely upon the evidence presented at the grievance day hearing.
In many cases the town and village assessors assist each other in matters concerning the valuation of real property by comparing appraisals and exchanging information concerning properties located in the village, and in some cases the assessors have widely different opinions as to the full value of the same parcel of property.
In addition, there is always the possibility that the town and the village may enter into a cooperative assessment agreement or that the village may adopt the town roll as the basis for the village assessment roll.
For the above reasons, it is our opinion that, although there is no statutory prohibition, a village assessor should not be appointed to the board of review of the town in which the village is located.
April 13, 1972