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Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 121

Opinions of Counsel index

Tax maps (boundaries) (fire district) - Real Property Tax Law, § 503; Town Law, § 176; 9 NYCRR 189.6(e):

Although fire district boundaries must be indicated on the tax map prepared for assessments of real property, determination of those boundaries or resolution of disputes is the responsibility of the district and the town board, not the assessor.

The responsibility for determining fire district boundaries rests with the fire district commissioners (Town Law, § 176(5)). The procedure for the preparation, approval and filing of a fire district map is set forth in subdivision 5 of section 176 of the Town Law. Where there is a dispute concerning a boundary line located within a single town, the town board of that town must have the boundary line or lines surveyed by the town engineer if there is one, or, if not, by a licensed land surveyor. If the disputed line or lines are located in two or more towns, the town boards, acting jointly, determine which town engineer or licensed land surveyor will do the survey. The cost of this survey is borne equally by the fire districts involved.

State Board Rules established pursuant to section 503(1)(b) of the RPTL (9 NYCRR 189.6(e)(2)) require that special district boundary lines be shown on tax maps, and this requirement includes fire districts (Real Property Tax Law, § 102(16)). The fire district map, a certified copy of which must be filed in the offices of the town clerk(s) and the county clerk (Town Law, § 176(5)), should be used by the assessor as a guide in the preparation of the assessment roll (RPTL, § 502; 9 NYCRR 190-1.3(b)(7)). It is not the responsibility of the assessor, however, to resolve disputes about fire district boundaries; that is left to the town engineer (or licensed land surveyor) acting in accordance with the provisions of subdivision 5 of section 176 of the Town Law.

April 26, 1985