Galef Announces Passage of Statewide Legislation Affecting Municipal Boards of Assessment Review Throughout New York State

Legislation will prevent and penalize unethical conduct by Members of the Board of Assessment Review
July 18, 2006
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef announces passage in the Assembly and Senate of two bills that change the way local Boards of Assessment Review function to prevent and penalize inappropriate conduct by individual members.

The first bill (A.10201/S.8064) increases the civil fine from $250 to $1,000 for a member of the Board of Assessment Review who fails to disclose an interest in a piece of property undergoing reassessment. The second bill (A.10727/S.7369) allows for any municipality to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with another municipality within the county when a member of the Board of Assessment Review has an interest in the property to be reviewed. Both bills were sponsored in the Senate by Senator Vincent Leibell.

Both pieces of legislation were developed in response to actions taken by some members of a Board of Assessment Review Board. In 2005, four out of five members of the Putnam Valley Assessment Review Board heard each other's property grievances and reduced those properties’ assessments, giving rise to public outcry. These four members received fines of $250 because they did not disclose their interest in their properties under review as currently stipulated in existing real property tax law.

A.10201/S.8064 increases the civil fine amount from $250 to $1,000 while retaining the current definition of ‘interest’ in a property. Currently, members appointed to the board of assessment review are required to disclose on a state board of assessment review form any direct or indirect interest they have in any property for which a complaint has been filed. Examples of a direct or indirect interest include the following: when a member or his/her spouse or child(ren) owns the property, has a position with a firm that owns or leases the property, or owns stock in a company that owns or leases the property.

A.10727/S.7369 applies to the situation when a member of a local board of assessment review has a direct or indirect interest in the property being reviewed by that board. The municipality may enter into an inter-municipal agreement with another municipality in the county allowing the complaint to be heard in the other locale. The purpose of this amendment is to promote ethical behavior and public scrutiny of the board of assessment review members who have assessment grievances which under present law can only be heard by other members of the same board.

“This legislation will help municipalities to clarify the role of the Board of Assessment Review members when they wish to have their own properties reviewed for tax assessment purposes, so that situations that occurred in Putnam Valley will never happen again,” said Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.

Both pieces of legislation will be sent to the Governor for signature and will take effect immediately if he signs the bills.