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September 25, 1998

 

Hon. Kathleen G. Cory
Town Clerk
Town of Lewisboro
P.O. Box 500
South Salem, NY 10590

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
correspondence.

Dear Ms. Cory:

As you are aware, I have received your memorandum of September 16.

You wrote that there has been "controversy" in the Town of Lewisboro relating to
addresses on your assessment roll. You indicated that the assessor "has prepared the roll and
included the home address (not necessarily the property address) of each owner, including a
post office box number if appropriate." The question involves whether disclosure would
constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

From my perspective, the record in question must be disclosed. In this regard, I offer
the following comments.

First, §502 of the Real Property Tax Law describes the form of an assessment roll and
specifies the kinds of information that must be included in an assessment roll. Pertinent to the
matter is subdivision (9) of §502, which states that:

"Provision shall be made for the entry of the tax billing address
of each separately assessed parcel. For purposes of this
chapter, 'tax billing address' means the address designated by
the owner to which tax bills shall be sent. Such tax billing
address may be entered in the form of a code."

Based on the foregoing, the assessment roll must include an address designated by the owner
of a parcel for the purpose of mailing tax bills.

Second, §516 of the Real Property Tax Law states that an assessment roll is accessible
to the public and must be "retained in the office of city or town clerk as a public record for
a minimum of ten years from the date the final assessment roll was filed."

Lastly, although the Freedom of Information Law includes provisions that enable
agencies to withhold records when disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of
privacy [see §§87(2)(b) and 89(2)(b)], in my opinion, they do not apply. Section 89(6) of the
Freedom of Information Law states, in essence, that if records are available under another
provision of law, nothing in the Freedom of Information Law can be asserted to withhold
those records. Since §516 of the Real Property Tax Law requires the disclosure of an
assessment roll that includes addresses, the provisions in the Freedom of Information Law
pertaining to the protection of privacy would be inapplicable [see Szikszay v. Buelow, 436
NYS 2d 558, 107 Misc.2d 886 (1981)].

I hope that I have been of assistance. Should any further questions arise, please feel
free to contact me.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

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