Volume 3 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 122
Board of Assessment Review (composition) (employee of State Board) (official of a political party) - Real Property Tax Law, § 1524:
The State Board prohibits its employees from accepting appointments to the board of assessment review. An official of a political party, who is not an officer or employee of the local government, is not expressly prohibited from serving on the board of assessment review.
We have received an inquiry as to whether it is proper to appoint to the board of assessment review:
(a) a person employed by the State Board of Equalization and Assessment or
(b) a person who is an official of a political party.
Since the prospective appointee named in this inquiry has severed his employment with the State Board of Equalization and Assessment, that portion of the inquiry which related to his employment with this office has been rendered moot. However, concern about the appointment of an employee of this office to a local board of assessment review is well-founded in that it is the established policy of this office to prohibit State Board employees from accepting such appointments.
Section 1524 of the Real Property Tax Law governs the composition of a local board of assessment review, which section provides, in part, that members shall have a knowledge of property values in the local government; that neither the assessor nor any member of his staff may be appointed; and that a majority of the board may not consist of members who are officers or employees of the local government.
Since the official of the political party in this inquiry is not an officer or employee of the local government, he is not expressly prohibited from serving on the board of assessment review pursuant to section 1524.
Prior to the enactment of section 1524, complaints concerning assessments were heard solely by the assessors, the very persons who made the assessment in the first instance. The intent of section 1524 was to provide complaining property owners with an opportunity to have their complaint reviewed by an independent body; thus, the provision excluding the assessor or any member of his staff from eligibility on the board of assessment review and the provision limiting the number of persons who could be officers or employees of the assessing unit to a minority of the total membership. Section 1524 was further intended to remove from the political arena, as much as possible, the matter of hearing assessment complaints. The appointment of an official of a political party to a five-man board of assessment review which consists of only one member who is an officer or employee of the city would appear to be well within the statutory intent. However, if two of the members are officers or employees of the assessing unit, the appointment of an officer of a political party could create a situation which the statute was intended to avoid. The determination as to whether the board of assessment review, as composed in an assessing unit and considered as a whole, satisfies the above-mentioned statutory intent is a matter to be resolved by the appointing authority.
July 31, 1974