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Volume 5 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 76

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessor (term of office) (six year term) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 1522, 1557:

The six year term of office for the appointed assessors set forth in section 1522 of the Real Property Tax Law began October 1, 1971 and terminates on September 30, 1977. A new six year term commences October 1, 1977 and each sixth year thereafter. Should a vacancy occur within the six year period or should a municipality, that had previously elected to retain its elected assessors, opt to change to an appointed assessor within such period (Real Property Tax Law, § 1557), an appointee is to serve for the unexpired portion of the normal six year period.

We have received an inquiry relating to the six year term for appointed assessors.

In 1970 the Legislature enacted the so-called “Assessment Improvement Law” (L. 1970, c.957) adding Article 15-A to the Real Property Tax Law. Under that law, the terms of office of all assessors whose terms would have extended beyond September 30, 1971 terminated on that date, except where a municipality had exercised the option provided therein to retain elective assessors. As to appointed assessors, the law required that a single assessor be appointed for a term to commence on October 1, 1971 as provided in section 1522 of Article 15-A.

Section 1522 provides, with certain exceptions relating to an indefinite term, that the term of office of assessor shall be six years. Subdivision 2 expressly states that “Such terms shall commence on the first day of October, nineteen hundred seventy-one and each sixth year thereafter.” Subdivision 3(a) calls for the appointment of a successor for the balance of the unexpired term where an appointment has been revoked. Therefore, in 2 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 42. we stated that should a vacancy occur for any reason, including death or resignation, a successor may be appointed only for the balance of the unexpired six year term.

It is also noted that section 1557 of Article 15-A authorizes and sets forth the procedure for municipalities with elected assessors to change to an appointed assessor by adopting a local law calling for an appointive office of assessor as provided in section 1522. Such action may be taken at any time not necessarily coincidental with the expiration of the six year period set forth in section 1522. Thus, for instance, were a municipality to take such action in 1972, the term of an individual appointed to the office would normally expire on September 30, 1977. Such individual could, of course, be reappointed to a full six year term to commence October 1, 1977.

Accordingly, the six year term of office set forth in section 1522 applies uniformly beginning with October 1, 1971 and terminating after six years on September 30, 1977. A new six year term commences on October 1, 1977 and each sixth year thereafter. Should a vacancy occur within the six year period or should a municipality opt to change to an appointive assessor within such period, an appointee is to serve for the unexpired portion of the normal six year term.

August 13, 1976

Updated: