Plaintiff brings this action in lieu of prerogative writs to establish his right to the office of the city assessor of the City of Camden, alleging tenure as an honorably discharged veteran. The plaintiff received his honorable discharge from the Army of the United States on December 15, 1918.
On January 20, 1938 George E. Brunner, Mayor and Director of Department of Revenue and Finance, appointed, by letter, the plaintiff Dobbs "a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Assessment of Taxes of the City of Camden, New Jersey, such appointment to be effective Friday, January 21st, 1938, at a salary of $2400. per annum less the usual deductions." The letter concluded, "You will report for duty at 9:00 A.M. on the effective date to Mr. Maurice Clyman and Mr. Harry Langenbein, the members previously appointed by me to this Board." The plaintiff, receiving no other appointments, continued to hold the office until July 1, 1961, when he received notice that the board of assessors had been abolished.
At the time of the plaintiff's appointment the City of Camden had a commission form of government which was established in April 1923. R.S. 40:70-1 et seq. On July 1, 1961 the City of Camden changed to Mayor-Council Plan B of the Optional Municipal Charter Law. N.J.S.A. 40:69A-49 et seq.
At the organization meeting on July 1, 1961 an ordinance was passed adopting an administrative code for the City
of Camden. Under Article 4, Department of Administration and Finance, the ordinance provides:
"4.7 Division of Assessments. Within the department of administration and finance there shall be a division of assessments, the head of which shall be the city assessor. The division shall:
(a) Have, perform and discharge all the functions, powers and duties prescribed by law for a municipal assessor;
(b) Make assessments for benefits for local improvement, and for that purpose to have and exercise the powers and duties of a board of assessment for local improvements as provided by law;
(c) Maintain adequate assessment records of each separate parcel of real property assessed or exempted and establish and maintain such files, records and procedures as may be required for the valuation and assessment of personal property pursuant to law;
(d) Maintain a current tax map of the city as a public record, and cause to be recorded thereon all changes in ownership or character of the real property assessed."
The defendant Clyman, who was not a veteran, was appointed the city assessor, and it was stipulated that Clyman later resigned on March 15, 1962, and he was succeeded ...