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Legislative Memo

BILL:

A.5793 Bradley, et al./S.3368 Spano

Support

SUBJECT:

Evidence of Commercial Assessment Ratio

 

DATE:

June 22, 2005

 

The Business Council opposes A.5793/S.3368 which would (1) require the Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) to calculate a special assessment ratio for certain property owners (designated as “Major Type B”) in any “non-reassessment municipality” in any county with a 2000 Federal decennial census population of more than 923,000 and fewer than 924,000 [read: Westchester] and (2) allow such special assessment ratio to be entered into evidence in an Article 7 certiorari case brought by these certain property owners.

All real property in each assessing unit throughout New York – including Westchester County – “shall be assessed at a uniform percentage of value” Real Property Tax Law § 305.

“Evidence on the issue of whether an assessment is unequal shall be limited to the following as hereinafter provided.

  1. By the selected parcels method as determined by stratified random sample....
  2. By actual sales of real property within the assessing units that occurred during the year in which the assessment under review was made.
  3. By other methods.

The parties shall be limited in their proof on the trial of such issue to such parcels and witnesses, except that in any event, whether or not parcels are selected as hereinabove provided, evidence may be given by either party as to the following:

(a) in all assessing units...the state equalization rate established for the roll containing the assessment under review;...or

(d) in all assessing units, the uniform percentage of value stated on the tax bill for the roll containing the assessment under review.”

A.5793/S.3368 would add to the evidence that may be given by either party:

(e) ...upon the review of an assessment of major type B property as defined in section twelve hundred fifteen of this chapter, the commercial assessment ratio established for the roll containing the assessment under review.

The law requires that all real property be assessed at a uniform percentage of value. It is disingenuous to present evidence that an assessing unit has discriminated against a select subgroup of property (which includes the parcel under review) as a defense against the assertion that the single parcel under review has been treated unequally vis-a-vis the entire assessment roll.

The inequality of the treatment of the subject parcel under certiorari review with the assessment roll as a whole is the issue before the trier of fact. The proffer of A.5793/S.3368's commercial assessment ratio is neither demonstrative nor determinative of the issue at hand. Moreover, any scintilla of value that a trier of fact might glean from a commercial assessment ratio established by ORPS would be overwhelmed by the evidential value of the equalization rate as established by the very same body (ORPS) in the very same process (the commercial assessment ratio's data is a component of, and used in, the equalization rate) – an equalization rate that is dispositive of the issue under certiorari review.

Accordingly, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. respectfully requests that you withhold your approval of A.5793/S.3368.