Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 2
Assessor (removal from office) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1522:
An appointing authority may make a determination to remove an assessor from office but that determination is subject to an administrative review by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment.
We have received an inquiry as to whether an assessor who has been appointed to a six-year term may be removed from office by the town board during the six-year term for reasons other than “dereliction of duties”.
Subdivision 7 of section 1522 of the Real Property Tax Law contains the provisions for removal of assessors.
“7. Removal of assessors. An assessor may be removed from office for just cause by the appointing authority after a hearing upon notice. Determination to remove an assessor or take other disciplinary action as a result of the removal proceeding against an assessor shall be subject to review by the state board upon application filed with such board by the assessor within thirty days after receipt by him of written notice of such determination. The review by the state board shall be based upon the record and a transcript of the hearing held by the appointing authority and such oral or written argument as may be presented to such board by the parties to the proceeding. Upon completion of such review the state board shall affirm, reverse or modify the determination of the appointing authority. The determination of the state board shall be subject to judicial review in accordance with the provisions of article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules.” (Emphasis added)
Accordingly, if an appointing authority makes a determination to remove an appointed assessor from office, its determination is subject to an administrative review by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment. The statute provides the State Board with the authority to affirm, reverse or modify the determination of the appointing authority. The determination of the State Board is subject to judicial review pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
Assessors are thereby protected from capricious removal or capricious disciplinary action by the appointing authority. However, exactly what would constitute “just cause” would have to be developed in each individual situation.
May 16, 1972