When is the word “shall” permissive instead of mandatory?

When is the word “shall” permissive instead of mandatory?
 

The Kentucky Courts in a long line of cases have defined the word “‘SHALL” as used in contracts and statutes as being a mandatory duty.  One of our sharp-eyed LawReader para legals asks us why in Ratliff v. Phillips, 746 S.W.2d 405 (Ky., 1988) and Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Inc. v. Albert Oil Company, Inc., 969 S.W.2d 691 (KY, 1998) the court found that the word was merely suggestive?  
We feel obligated to seek an answer for this interesting question:

The Ratliff case holds: “In summary and notwithstanding use of the word “shall,” we believe the Legislature intended the time requirement of KRS 100.263 to be directory rather than mandatory. Webster County v. Vaughn, Ky., 365 S.W.2d 109 (1962).”

The Evangelical case cited the Ratliff decision and said that in that instance the ruling: “turned on the absence of any statutory language establishing the consequences of the failure to act by the Board. In this case, the language directing the recommendation “shall be final and effective” is present in the statute”
 “The statute in question says that the fiscal court or legislative body shall take final action and the words are clearly mandatory in nature.”
The following case explains the exception is allowed when trying to interpret Legislative Intent:
Hart v. Central City, 289 Ky. 431 (KY, 1942)
 “the general rule of interpretation of the word (Lewis’ Sutherland on Statutory Construction, Section 640) except there should be added that “the construction of mandatory words as directory and directory words as mandatory should not be lightly adopted.” Crawford, Statutory Construction, Section 262. It is always a question of legislative intent. And in ascertaining that intent the entire statute must be considered. The whole scheme established by this statute is to require the improvements to be made at the expense of abutting property, with certain exceptions. The liability of the City for the cost where those excepted conditions exist is made manifest by the use of the word “shall.”

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