Earvine Ware v Freddie Dunlap, Assessor St Louis City

May 17th, 2016

State Tax Commission of Missouri


              Complainant )  
v. ) Appeal # 15-20005
  )                15-20006
FREDDIE DUNLAP, ASSESSOR )                15-20007
ST. LOUIS CITY, MISSOURI, )                15-20008
               Respondent. )  






Decisions of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization are AFFIRMED.

Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessments by the Board of Equalization regarding valuation.

Residential Assessed Value for the subject properties for tax years 2015 and 2016 is set as follows:

Appeal # Residential Assessed Value
15-20005 $1,520
15-20006 $2,100
15-20007 $1,520
15-20008 $36,080


Complainant Earvine Ware appeared pro se.

Respondent appeared by attorney Rory O’Sullivan

Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu.


Complainant appeals, on the grounds of overvaluation, the decisions of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the assessed value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2015. The assessment as of January 1 of the odd numbered year remains the assessment as of January 1 of the following even numbered year unless there is new construction and improvement to the property. Section 137.115.1 RSMo.

The assessed values assigned by the Assessor and Board of Equalization are as follows:


Appeal # Assessed Value by Assessor Assessed Value by BOE
15-20005 $2,850 $1,520
15-20006 $4,200 $2,100
15-20007 $2,850 $1,520
15-20008 $36,080 $36,080



The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


  1. Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.  Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization.
  2. Evidentiary Hearing. The Evidentiary Hearing was held on April 14, 2016 at St. Louis City Hall, St. Louis, Missouri.
Appeal # Parcel/Locator Address Type of Property
15-20005 4582-00-0180-0 4310 Washington Lot
15-20006 4582-00-0210-0 4300 Washington Lot
15-20007 4582-00-0190-0 4308 Washington Lot
15-20008 4582-00-0200-0 4306 Washington Home Site
  1. Identification of Subject. The subject properties are identified as follows: (Exhibits 1, 2, 3 & 4).
  2. Description of Subject Property. The properties are described as follows:
Appeal # Description
15-20005 4,000 sq. ft. vacant lot zoned Single-Family District
15-20006 5,523 sq. ft. vacant lot zoned Single-Family District
15-20007 4,000 sq. ft. vacant lot zoned Single-Family District
15-20008 5,250 sq. ft. vacant lot zoned Single-Family District, Improved by a 2.5 story, brick, single-family house built in 1885 which has 2,885 sq. ft. of living area. The home was 1 full bathroom, a rear porch, a patio and a 2 car garage.


(Exhibits 1, 2, 3 & 4).

  1. Assessment. The Assessor and the St. Louis City Board of Equalization set the Assessed Values as follows:
Appeal # Assessed Value by Assessor Assessed Value by BOE
15-20005 $2,850 $1,520
15-20006 $4,200 $2,100
15-20007 $2,850 $1,520
15-20008 $36,080 $36,080


(Exhibits 1, 2, 3 & 4).

  1. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant offered into evidence the following:
  Description Offered Received?
Exhibit A Summary of Facts X Yes
Exhibit B Letter from Complainant’s Daughter X Not Recv’d


Respondent objected to Exhibit A; however, such objection was overruled as Complainant testified, under oath, that she would testify to what was contained in the letter if asked, thus adopting the summary as if fully set forth in the recorded transcript verbatim. The objection to Exhibit A was overruled.  Respondent objected to Exhibits B as a settlement document.  Such objection was sustained.

  1. No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016 therefore the assessed value for 2015 remains the assessed value for 2016.  Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
  2. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered into evidence Exhibits 1 through 5.  Such consisted of the following:
  Description Offered Received?
Exhibit1 Appraisal Report 15-20008 TMV $23,160 (Assessed $4,400) X Yes
Exhibit 2 Appraisal Report 15-20007 TMV $29,700 (Assessed $5,643) X Yes
Exhibit 3 Appraisal Report 15-20005 TMV $23,160 (Assessed $4,400) X Yes
Exhibit 4 Appraisal Report 15-20006 TMV $192,700 (Assessed $36,613) X Yes
Exhibit 5 St. Louis City Ordinance 26.20.090 (4,000 sq. ft. minimums for building of single-family residence) X Yes


Exhibits 1 through 5 were received into the evidentiary record without objection. The appraisals were offered by Respondent solely in support of the Board of Equalization assessed values.

  1. Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted. Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2015,  See, Presumption In Appeal, infra.



The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious. The Hearing Officer shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying or reversing the determination of the Board of Equalization, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.  Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.

Basis of Assessment

            The Constitution mandates that real property and tangible personal property be assessed at its value or such percentage of its value as may be fixed by law for each class and for each subclass.  Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945.   The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal.  By statute real and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money.

Presumption In Appeal

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.  Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958).   This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption.  It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainant.

Complainant’s Burden of Proof

In order to prevail, Complainant must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2015. Hermel, supra. There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof.  The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.   Therefore, the Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” See, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003.

Weight to be Given Evidence

            The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, but is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled.  The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide. St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).

Owner’s Opinion of Value

The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.   Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970).   The owner’s opinion is without probative value; however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.  Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).   “Where the basis for a test as to the reliability of the testimony is not supported by a statement of facts on which it is based, or the basis of fact does not appear to be sufficient, the testimony should be rejected.” Carmel Energy at 783.  A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”  See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).

Standard for Valuation

Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).  True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973).

It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, supra.

Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.

Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:

  1. Buyer and seller are typically motivated.


  1. Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.


  1. A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.


  1. Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.


  1. Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.


  1. The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by  special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in  the transaction. Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate  Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5;  Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of  Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal  Practice, Glossary.


Complainant Fails to Proves Value

Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to establish a fair market value as of January 1, 2015, for the subject properties. Complainant’s testimonial evidence and Exhibit A was not substantial and persuasive to allow a determination of the true market values of the properties.  Ultimately, Complainant’s evidence left the Hearing Officer “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”  See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).  Complainant did not meet his burden of proof.

Respondent’s Supports Value

Respondent’s appraiser opined true market values of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2015, as set forth above. See Finding of Fact, Paragraph 8. Respondent’s appraiser developed an opinion of value relying upon an established and recognized approach for the valuation of real property, the sales comparison or market approach.  The sales comparison approach is generally recognized to be the most reliable methodology to be utilized in the valuation of single-family residences.  The appraiser utilized three comparable properties in each of his appraisals.  The adjustments made by the appraiser were consistent with generally accepted guidelines for the appraisal of property of the subject’s type.  The adjustments properly accounted for the various differences between the subject and each comparable.

Regarding 4306 Washington, the subject of appeal 15-20008, comparable #1 was two city blocks from the subject property. The appraiser concluded an adjusted sales price of $188,900, which less than 1% different than the value assigned to the subject property in 15-20008 by the Board of Equalization.  Comparables #2 an #3 utilized by Respondent’s appraiser .26 and .22 miles from the property and each had an adjusted sales price above the Board of Equalization value for the subject property.

Evidence of Increase in Value

            In any case in charter counties or St. Louis City where the assessor presents evidence which indicates a valuation higher than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization, whichever is higher, for that assessment period, such evidence will only be received for the purpose of sustaining the assessor’s or board’s valuation, and not for increasing the valuation of the property under appeal. Section 138.060, RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.075. The evidence presented by the Respondent was substantial and persuasive to support the valuations by the St. Louis City Board of Equalization.  Respondent offered his appraisal evidence only to support the values of the Board of Equalization. The assessed values under the Commission rule just cited and Supreme Court decision is AFFIRMED at:

Appeal # Residential Assessed Value
15-20005 $1,520
15-20006 $2,100
15-20007 $1,520
15-20008 $36,080


State ex rel. Ashby Road Partners, LLC et al v. STC and Muehlheausler, 297 S.W.3d 80, 87-88

(Mo 8/4/09)


The assessed valuations for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis City for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.

The assessed values for the subject properties for tax years 2015 & 2016 are set at:

Appeal # Residential Assessed Value
15-20005 $1,520
15-20006 $2,100
15-20007 $1,520
15-20008 $36,080



Application for Review

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision. The application shall contain specific facts or law as grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.  Said application must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.

          Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of St. Louis City, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending the possible filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of Section 139.031.8, RSMo.

Any Finding of Fact which is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed. Any Decision which is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.

SO ORDERED this 17th day of May, 2016.


John J. Treu

Senior Hearing Officer


Delivery or Notice was made via mail, email, fax, or personally on May 17, 2016 to the following Individuals of this Order


samsware@yahoo.com; OSullivanR@stlouis-mo.gov; dunlapf@stlouis-mo.gov; roec@stlouis-mo.gov; showerst@stlouiscity.com


Jacklyn Wood

Legal Coordinator