On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.22, which has the potential to change the way in which Tentative Assessment Rolls are published and the deadlines for filing grievances of assessments.
Nearly all municipalities have a statutory deadline to file their tentative assessment roll on or before May 1st of each year. Executive Order 202.22 allows each municipality with a statutory deadline on or before June 1, 2020, to file the assessment roll up to thirty (30) days late at the sole discretion of the municipality. The effect of this Executive Order is to give nearly all municipalities a new deadline of May 31, 2020, to file its tentative assessment roll.
The Executive Order waives the statutory requirements that the tentative assessment roll be available for review in the municipal Clerk’s Office and the requirement that there be newspaper publication of the notice of filing of the tentative assessment roll as long as the municipality prominently displays the date for hearing grievances of the assessment on its website.
Without the Executive Order, the deadline by which grievances must be filed and the earliest day on which the municipality can conduct hearings through its’ Board of Assessment Review is the fourth Tuesday in May (in 2020, that date is May 26th). The latest day for Board of Assessments Review to begin hearings is supposed to be the second Tuesday in June (in 2020, that is June 9th). Executive Order 202.22 requires that the hearing date/deadline for filing grievances must be at least twenty-one (21) days after the filing of the tentative assessment roll.
As a result of the Executive Order, municipalities now can file their tentative assessment roll at any time from May 1st to May 31st and be timely. While the deadline for filing grievances will not be any earlier than May 26th, each municipality has the freedom to choose its own deadline for the filing of grievances and date upon which challenges to assessments will be heard so long as the date is at least 21 days after the filing of the tentative assessment roll. A party who will consider grieving its assessment should check the property’s municipal website regularly to determine when the tentative assessment is or was filed and what the deadline for filing grievances and the date of the first meeting of the municipal Board of Assessment Review will be. Because of the COVID restrictions on local government activity, grievances should be completed and filed quickly this year. The Clerk’s office in many municipalities is not open on a full time basis and may not be open every day. There is no provision in the Executive Order that allows the filing of a grievance beyond the municipal deadline.
Executive Order 202.22 also permits Boards of Assessment Review to hear complaints “by conference call or similar service, provided complainants can present their complaints through such service and the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding”. We can anticipate that municipalities will respond to this portion of the Executive Order in very different ways. Some municipalities will be able and willing to embrace remote technologies and others will insist on trying to have in-person meetings with social distancing.
As we approach the earliest deadline for the filing of tentative assessment rolls, it will be important to actively monitor the websites of municipalities in which grievances may be filed to determine the date on which the roll will be filed, the deadline for filing of grievances and the manner in which Boards of Assessment Review will be conducting any hearings to consider grievances. Grievances should completed and filed early because of potential problems in filing with the Clerk’s office.