State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 09-20294
ED BUSHMEYER, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS CITY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss is denied.The Commission has jurisdiction to hear Complainant’s appeal.Complainant appeared by Counsel, Christopher A. Michener, St. Louis, Missouri.Respondent appeared by Assistant City Counselor, Carl W. Yates, III.
Decision rendered by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.Respondent filed his Motion to Dismiss.The Commission addresses Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss. The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction to rule on the pending Motion to Dismiss is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization.Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss raises the question of the jurisdiction of the Commission to hear the underlying appeal.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.The Commission has authority to hear all appeals concerning all questions and disputes involving the assessment against the property under appeal, the correct valuation to be placed on such property, the method or formula used in determining the valuation of such property, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment to such property.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.
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss is grounded upon his claim that the Commission does not have jurisdiction to address the issue of the valuation of the subject property for 2009 because the property is in a tax abated status pursuant to §§ 99.700 to 99.715, RSMo.The Assessor’s claim is further delineated under two lines of argument.First, that the Commission does not have jurisdiction because the Assessor has done nothing in setting the assessment on Complainant’s property that is unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.Second, that the Commission does not have jurisdiction because the abatement of the Complainant’s property is the result of a contract between the city and the taxpayer and the Commission is without authority to change the contract.
As to the first ground of the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction, it simply begs the question.The same claim could be made as to any appeal made to the Commission.Complainant has raised a question as to whether the assessment under the applicable abatement statute is in fact lawful.Complainant’s appeal attacks the interpretation and application of the abatement law by the Assessor.The issue appears to be one of first impression for the Commission.It is a legitimate issue for the Commission to address in order to determine if the 2009 assessment of Complainant’s property is unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.
As to Respondent’s second argument, it is not well taken.The enactment of the ordinance in effect for Complainant’s property did not create a contract between Respondent and Complainant.Nor did it create a contract between the City of St. Louis and Complainant.The ordinance simply established the mechanism by which the property under appeal could obtain a tax abated status pursuant to §§99.700 to 99.715, RSMo.To the extent the 2009 assessment of the Complainant’s property under the tax abatement program has been challenged it is within the authority and therefore the jurisdiction of the Commission to consider and rule on that issue in determining if the assessment is unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and consider the issues raised by Complainant.
The Motion to Dismiss is denied.The issues of the true value in money as of January 1, 2009, and whether the assessed value of $483,100 set for the 2008 assessment year may be reduced are now ready to be addressed by the Commission upon submission of evidence by the parties.An appropriate order setting an exchange schedule will be forth coming.
The Order entered herein finding jurisdiction in the Commission to hear this appeal is not a decision and order affirming, modifying or reversing the determination of the board of equalization under §138.431.5, RSMo.It is an interlocutory order.It is not an appealable order under §§138.431.5 and 138.432, RSMo, until a Hearing Officer decision and order on the issue of valuation of the subject properties is issued.At such time it may be raised as a point under a timely filed Application for Review to the full Commission.
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 further order of the Commission, 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 June 21, 2011.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 21st day of June, 2011, to:Christopher Michener, 812 North Collins, St. Louis, MO 63102-2174,Attorney for Complainant; Carl W. Yates III, Associate City Counselor, 314 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103, Attorney for Respondent; Ed Bushmeyer, Assessor, 120 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103; Gregory Daly, Collector, 110 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103.
Contact Information for State Tax Commission:
Missouri State Tax Commission
301 W. High Street, Room 840
P.O. Box 146
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146
 Contrary to Respondent’s argument, Complainant does not seek by its theory of the case to go back and challenge the 2007 or 2008 determinations of true value in money and thus the assessed value for the subject property.