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MATTER ALVIN H. DRELICH ET AL. v. DAVID KAHN (06/26/69)
SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, SPECIAL TERM, NASSAU COUNTY
1969.NY.42197 <http://www.versuslaw.com>; 302 N.Y.S.2d 634; 60 Misc. 2d 227
June 26, 1969
IN THE MATTER OF ALVIN H. DRELICH ET AL., PETITIONERS,v.DAVID KAHN, AS TAX ASSESSOR OF THE CITY OF LONG BEACH, ET AL., RESPONDENTS
Seymour Klagsbrun for petitioners.
Koeppel, Sommer, Lesnick & Ross (Adolph Koeppel of counsel), for City of Long Beach, respondent.
Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney-General, for Arthur Levitt and another, respondents.
Howard T. Hogan, J.
In this article 78 proceeding the petitioners seek judgment enjoining the City of Long Beach from "collecting and enforcing the 1969 City of Long Beach Real Estate Taxes", directing the payment of reasonable attorney's fees, permitting the petitioners to copy certain real estate appraisal records, permitting the petitioners to copy the city's assessment rolls for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969, and for other relief. The respondents have cross-moved for dismissal.
It appears from the documents before the court that prior to the adoption of the 1969 assessment roll, the City of Long Beach assessed real property at a ratio of 35% of full value. According to the respondents' affidavits, the ratio for the 1969 tax year has been increased to 80%. In that connection the city entered into a contract in 1966 with a Dayton, Ohio, firm to appraise each of the properties within the city. The report of that appraisal firm was utilized by the Board of Assessors in arriving at the assessments for the property on the tax roll.
One effect of the reassessment and the increase in ratio has been the dilution of specific exemptions. Section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law provides for certain veterans' exemptions, and subdivision (3) of that section directs that the amount of the exemption be subtracted from the total assessed valuation. A hypothetical situation will illustrate the result of the new assessment procedure.
Prior to 1969 a veteran entitled to a $5,000 exemption whose home in the city had a full value of $25,000 would have his exemption deducted from the assessed value which was predicated upon 35% of full value, or in this case, from $8,750 which would leave him a final assessed valuation of $3,750.
Under the new roll, and applying an 80% ratio, his assessed value prior to the exemption would be $20,000 and his final assessed value $15,000. The petitioners have shown that the result of the change is to increase their tax payments by up to $200 per year.
Counsel for the Assessors concedes one of the results of the new ratio is a reduction in the tax saving pertaining to veterans' exemptions, and such clearly is the case. However, he argues that such was not the goal of the city or the Assessor but merely a by-product of the Assessors' attempt to more equitably disburse the burden of taxation among all the property owners in the city by re-evaluating all property for the first time in some 30 years.
The first point raised is whether an article 78 proceeding is a proper remedy or whether each petitioner is relegated to a proceeding under article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law.
The petitioners here do not seek a review of any particular assessment. Rather they challenge the entire roll as void predicated upon the alleged illegal act of the Assessor in changing the applicable ratio. In cases where the very jurisdiction of the Assessor is challenged, the courts have held an article 78 proceeding to be a proper remedy. (See Elmhurst Fire Co. v. City of New York, 213 N. Y. 87.) The court holds that such remedy lies in the case at bar.
However, a very serious question arises concerning the timeliness of this proceeding.
The chronological sequence of pertinent events is as follows:
Completion of Assessment Roll June 1, 1968
Grievance Period June ...