Assessment Data: Each parcel has an individual file of all it's property data (inventory), which is maintained on a computerized record such as RPS or equivalent, and is updated by inspection at least every 6 years. Physical and economic change affect every parcel and every neighborhood differently- and thereby make property inventory less accurate over time. Fair and accurate assessments require that individual property data to be accurate, regularly updated, and readily accessible and analyzable. This means that each locally assessed parcel has a complete and up-to-date inventory in electronic format, which may have to be supplemented with paper documents or photographs. To maintain up-to-date inventory, there is ongoing monitoring of (1) building permits, (2) sales, (3) property income, expense, and cost data- which come with inspection, data collection, analysis, and resulting updates of inventory. There is an inspection of every parcel at least every 6 years; inspection from the public right of way is necessary if there is no physical entry.
Sales Verification: Sold properties are inspected and the conditions of sales are verified. Properties that have sold are promptly inspected to update the accuracy of the data in the assessor's records, as well as to verify the terms of sale. Every sale is verified, preferably by contact with a party to the sale. The physical inventory at time of sale is verified, either prior to the next taxable status date or within ninety (90) days of receipt of the real property transfer (RP-5217). Physical inspection is the preferred method of verification; however, the data mailers an alternative method. A file of all real property sale transfers is created by entry on computerized software, RPS V-4 or the equivalent. Each sale is identified as either: a valid arms length sale, or a sale that is not considered for valuation purposes and/or ratio studies. The inventory for each sale is located on the same file. If the sale falls into a category on the RP-5217 of other than arms length, such as sales with excessive personal property or special terms of financing, the sale is excluded from the sale ratio studies as well as valuation.
Exemptions: All real property is subject to taxation unless a specific exemption statute applies. Eligibility for exemption is determined annually by the Assessor. Under RPTL 300, all property is subject to taxation unless an exemption is provided by statute. There are numerous statutes that provide various exemptions applicable to types of property or property owners. The assessing unit undertakes reasonable efforts to inform property owners of any filing deadlines or renewal requirements. Such efforts include the use of municipal websites, public media, and direct contact.
Public Information: All property information not otherwise exempted from disclosure is available to the general public in a usable format. The assessing unit makes available all public information related to assessments. The only assessment data that is non-public is information that is specifically exempted from disclosure, such as personal information of individual property owners or information relating to litigation. Ideally, the public has internet or other steady access to all information on the property record cards of all parcels in the assessing unit as well as full value data for all parcels.
Public Relations & Education: Professional and effective public relations and education are integral components of effective assessment administration. Ongoing communication with the public is as much a part of the assessment function as property appraisal, exemption processing and tax roll preparation. THe goal is to make the assessment process as transparent and understandable as possible to the general public. Local officials must be aware that assessment is a municipal function and should not publicly disparage real property tax officials. Use of public media, publications, public meetings, taxpayer letters, and regular office hours are all components of effective public relations. During a comprehensive reassessment, extensive public relations are especially important. In all interactions with the public, assessing staff should be professional and courteous.
Training: Assessing staff are well trained and up to date in all facets of assessment administration. Under RPTL Article 3, assessors are required to be certified by completion of a course of training. In addition, appointed assessors and sole elected assessors must take 12 hours of continuing education per year. Training - both initial and continuing education - is important for effective assessment administration. These programs cover the statutes, regulations, procedures and practices of assessment valuation and administration, and thereby equip individuals for the responsibilities of their positions and to ensure continued competence. All assessors and staff should take advantage of educational opportunities that become available. While not required, assessing staff other than assessors should attend a minimum of six hours of training annually.
Technology: There is up-to-date technology, such as RPS. Modern professional assessing involves the collection, analysis and presentation of large volumes of property information. This requires the availability of a computer database, analytic and other technological tools for assessment administration. ORPTS has developed and maintains assessment administration software - RPS - which is specifically designed to support all statutory components of the New York State system of real property tax administration. RPS is used bu the vast majority of assessing units across the State. Assessing units pay RPS fees to defray a fraction of the total cost, and many County Real Property Service offices host countywide RPS installations and/or provide technical support. Most County RPS offices also provide GIS, tax bill support and other services. Where an assessing unit does not use RPS, the software is compatible with RPS to enable the assessing unit to administer the real property tax. Internet access is essential for all assessing units to connect to the ORPTS website and to communicate to taxpayers.
Tax Maps: Current and accurate tax maps are maintained. Perhaps the most essential of assessment tools is an adequate tax map reflecting the size, shape, and geographic characteristics of each parcel of land in the assessing unit. The County Real Property Tax Services Agency is responsible for the creation and maintenance of tax maps (except in Westchester County, where tax map responsibility lies within the city or town). The tax mapping agency and local assessor work together to produce annually a set of tax maps for each assessing unit.
Photography: Photography is an integral part of assessment administration. Street level photos of all improved properties are extremely helpful in administering the real property tax, both in terms of valuation and in assisting the public with assessments. Current photographs of all improved parcels should be maintained on RPS or equivalent.
Assessment Review: Taxpayers have an opportunity to seek review of their assessments. Taxpayers have the right to seek review of their assessments. In order to provide a fair review, the assessing unit appoints qualified individuals to serve on the board of assessment review and ensures that these individuals have completed required training. The only qualification for service on the board of assessment review, other than residency, is that the appointees have a "knowledge of property values in the local government or village" (523[b]) The assessing unit should look for qualifications beyond this minimum. Experience in construction, fianace and the law can assist board members in performing their duties. The assessing unit provides information for the taxpayer to be able to determine whether his or her assessment is equitable. Section 526(4) requires that the assessor attend the grievance proceedings.
GRIEVANCE DAY IS THE 4th TUESDAY IN MAY.
Defense of Assessments: The assessing unit provides necessary support for defense of its assessments. The assessor must be heard by the Board of Assessment Review if the assessor requests to speak. If a taxpayer seeks Small Claims Assessment Review and the assessing unit assigns the responsibility to represent the assessing unit to the assessor, the assessing unit provides the support necessary for adequate representation. If a taxpayer seeks judicial review pursuant to Article 7, Title 1, a "tax certiorari" proceeding, the assessing unit can seek or accept the support of the county and school districts that levy taxes on its assessment roll in defending those assessments in the judicial proceedings. The assessing unit should retain counsel with expertise in this area.