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Volume 4 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 59

Opinions of Counsel index

Correction of errors (final assessment roll) (procedure) - Real Property Tax Law, § 553:

Section 553 of the Real Property Tax Law contains the procedure to be followed in correcting final assessment rolls. If an appropriate petition is received, a special meeting of the board of assessment review must be held at least fifteen days after the final filing of the roll and within 90 days prior to the annexation of the warrant by the tax levying body. The officers having custody of the final roll will carry out the charges authorized by the board of assessment review. After the corrections are made, affected property owners and the County Director of Real Property Tax Services must be notified of the changes.

Our opinion has been requested concerning procedural application of section 553 of the Real Property Tax Law, which became effective September 1, 1974.

Subdivision 3(a) of section 553 sets out the timing requirements for the special meeting of the board of assessment review that is necessitated under the provisions of the new law. It provides, in part:

3(a). . . . The date to be designated shall be a date at least fifteen days subsequent to the filing of the final assessment roll and not more than ninety days prior to the date on which the tax levying body issues the warrant for the collection of taxes. . . .

The language of this subdivision is quite clear in requiring the chairman of the board of assessment review to designate a date for the second meeting of the board of assessment review to consider corrections under new section 553. The date must be fifteen days after the final filing of the roll and within ninety days of the date on which the tax levying body, be it school board or county legislature, annexes the warrant.

A second inquiry concerns the proper procedure to effectuate changes authorized by a board of assessment review under section 553. Under the new provisions for administrative correction of errors under the Real Property Tax Law (L.1974, c.177), the board of assessment review has sole jurisdiction to authorize corrections to the final assessment roll.

The board of assessment review must hold its special meeting within ninety days prior to the annexation of the warrant only if an E & A 74-2 petition is received. At the special meeting, the board of assessment review has all normal powers under section 512 of the Real Property Tax Law. The board must prepare a verified statement of all changes authorized at the special meeting pursuant to section 553 and deliver such statement to the tax levying body within five days of the special meeting.

The tax levying body must effect changes authorized by the board of assessment review in the manner prescribed in section 553, subdivision 4(a).

It is not necessary that the tax levying body convene to pass upon the changes authorized by the board of assessment review pursuant to section 553. It was contemplated by the framers of the new correction of errors statute that these changes would be carried out in a ministerial manner by the officer or officers having custody of the final assessment roll. The wording of the statute is explicit with regard to the duty of the tax levying body carrying out the changes: “. . . The appropriate tax levying body, prior to the extension of taxes and annexation of the warrant, shall. . .” carry out various changes (Real Property Tax Law, § 553(4) (a) ) (emphasis supplied). Under accepted statutory construction the word “shall” constitutes a mandatory direction to effectuate a specific task. (See, e.g., McKinney’s Statutes, §§ 171, 176.)

Upon completion of the authorized correction, the tax levying body must immediately notify by mail affected owners of real property (Real Property Tax Law, § 553(4)(b)). It is our opinion that the county director’s office must also be so notified.

November 26, 1974
Revised July 1975 to conform with amendments made by Chapter 124 of the Laws of 1975.

Updated: