George Cibulka v. Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, St. Louis County

November 19th, 2021


Complainant, ) Appeal No. 19-10836
) Parcel No. 17P530551
v. )
Respondent. )



            George Cibulka (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $203,300, with an assessed value of $38,630.   Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $120,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation.  However, Respondent presented substantial and persuasive evidence showing the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $172,000. The BOE’s decision is set aside.[1]

The evidentiary hearing was conducted on August 25, 2021, at the Wainwright State Office Building in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Complainant appeared pro se and in person.  Respondent was represented by counsel Tim Bowe, who appeared via WebEx video conference.


  1. Subject Property. The subject property is located at 808 Fernview Dr. in St. Louis, Missouri.  The parcel/locator number is 17P530551.

The subject property consists of a .2960 acre lot and a 1,467 square foot single family home that has three bedrooms and two full bath. (Ex. 1 at 1.)

  1. Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $203,300. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $203,300.
  2. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $120,000. Complainant testified in support of his opinion of value and submitted the following exhibits:
Exhibit Description Ruling
A Offer dated April 29, 2019, of   $120,000 for the subject property with the buyer listed as Growth Developments LLC. Admitted
B Offer dated August 4, 2019, of $125,000 for the subject property with the buyer listed as Cypress Investment Group, LLC. Admitted
C Twenty-four photographs of the subject property taken by Complainant and displayed on a poster board. Admitted

Respondent did not object to any of the exhibits, and Exhibits A through C were received into evidence. Complainant asserts that the subject property has many condition issues and that the TVM as of January 1, 2019, is $120,000 based on Exhibits A and B.

  1. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent presented the testimony of Sharon Kuelker, a senior residential appraiser employed by Respondent, and submitted Exhibit 1, Ms. Kuelker’s January 5, 2021, restricted appraisal report for the subject property indicating a $172,000 opinion of value as of January 1, 2019, and Exhibit 2, the BOE’s October 4, 2019, Findings and Notice of Decision. Complainant did not object to any of the exhibits, and Exhibits 1 and 2 were received into evidence.

In Exhibit 1, Ms. Kuelker utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of three comparable properties. The key property data in Exhibit 1 is as follows:

Address Subject Property

808 Fernview Dr.

Comparable 1

12952 Barbezieux Dr.

Comparable 2

13114 Cannes Dr.

Comparable 3

733 Gascogne Dr.

Proximity to Subject   0.1 mi 0.3 mi 0.4 mi
Sales Price   $170,000 $180,000 $215,000
Date of Sale   1/8/2016 2/10/2016 6/27/2018
Location Residential/ Typical Residential/ Typical Residential/ Typical Residential/ Typical
Site 0.2960 0.2820 0.2700 0.2500
Condition Fair Fair Fair Fair/Average
Room Count: Total/ Bedroom/ Bath 8/3/2 8/3/2 6/3/2 7/3/2
Gross Living Area (sq. ft.) 1,467 1,734 1,512 1,537
Basement and Finished Full Basement Full Basement Full Basement Full Basement
Rooms Below Grade Unfinished Unfinished Unfinished/ Halfbath Finished/Bath
Garage/ Carport 1 Car Garage 1 Car Garage 2 Car Garage 1 Car Garage
Fireplace Wood Stove Fireplace-1 Fireplace-1 Fireplace-1
Patio/Porch Patio Scrn Porch Patio/Prch EncPorch (90sf)
Adjusted Sale Price   $156,000 $167,000 $193,250

The comparable properties are similar to the subject property with respect to location, site, actual age, quality, and basement. Comparables 1, 2, and 3 differ from the subject property with respect to gross living area, fireplace, and patio/porch; rooms below grade, garage/carport, fireplace, and patio/porch; and condition, rooms below grade, fireplace, and patio/porch, respectively.  Exhibit 1 indicates that these differences have been adjusted for when determining an opinion of value, and that an adjustment was also made to comparable 1 for sale or financing concessions.

  1. Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $172,000.


  1. Assessment and Valuation. Residential real property is assessed at 19% of its TVM as of January 1 of each odd-numbered year.  Section 137.115.5(1)(a).  “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.”  Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005) (internal quotation omitted).  The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.”  Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).   Determining the TVM is a factual issue for the STC.  Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.”  Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).

            “For purposes of levying property taxes, the value of real property is typically determined using one or more of three generally accepted approaches.”  Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346.  The three generally accepted approaches are the cost approach, the income approach, and the comparable sales approach.  Id. at 346-48; see also St. Louis Cty. v. Sec. Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977).  The comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis.”  Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348.  “The comparable sales approach uses prices paid for similar properties in arms-length transactions and adjusts those prices to account for differences between the properties.”  Id. at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted).  “Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.”  Id. at 348.

  1. Evidence. The hearing officer is the finder of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015).  The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony.  Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012).  “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020).   The hearing officer “may inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property.”  Section 138.430.2.
  2. Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was overvalued or misclassified. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct.  Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020).  The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous” and must prove “the value that should have been placed on the property.”  Id.  “Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.”  Savage, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (internal quotation omitted).  Evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.”  Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); see also White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010) (noting the burden of persuasion is the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).        
  3. Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation. The presumption of correct valuation by the BOE was rebutted.  Both parties presented substantial evidence in support of values lower than the BOE value. However, Complainant did not persuasively establish that his proposed value, $120,000, was the value that should have been place on the subject property as of January 1, 2019. Although Exhibits A and B are offers to purchase the subject property for $120,000 and $125,000, respectively, the offers do not reflect market value. The subject property has not been listed on the open market. (Tr. 41:32-40.) Further, Ms. Kuelker persuasively testified that such contracts are typically “below what the market value would be.” (Tr. 48:41-50:31.) Exhibit C and Complainant’s testimony show that the subject property has various condition issues. However, Exhibit 1 and Ms. Kuelker’s related testimony persuasively establish that the condition of the subject property was considered in determining an opinion of TVM. (Ex. 1 at 4.) In Exhibit 1, Ms. Kuelker characterizes the subject property as in “Fair” condition. (Ex. 1 at 6.)

Respondent persuasively establishes that $172,000, which is lower than the BOE’s valuation, is the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019. Ms. Kuelker’s testimony and Exhibit 1 show that the sales comparison approach was developed using comparable sales within one mile of the subject property, and that adjustments to the three comparables were made.  Ms. Kuelker’s opinion of value falls within the range of the adjusted sales price of the comparables, $156,000 to $193,250.


The BOE decision is set aside.  The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $172,000.[2]

Application for Review

            A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within 30 days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application “shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.”  Section 138.432.  The application must be in writing, and may be mailed to the State Tax Commission, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to  A copy of the application must be sent to each person 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.

Disputed Taxes

            The Collector of St. Louis  County, 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.

SO ORDERED November 19, 2021.


Laura A. Storck-Elam

Senior Hearing Officer

State Tax Commission


Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on November 19, 2021, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.


Elaina Mejia

Legal Coordinator



[1] Complainant timely filed a complaint for review of assessment.  The State Tax Commission (STC) has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal.   Mo. Const. art. X, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000.  All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.

[2] Missouri operates on a two-year reassessment cycle for valuing real property.  See Section 137.115.1.  Absent new construction or improvements to a parcel of real property, the assessed value as of January 1 of the odd year remains the assessed value as of January 1 of the following even year.  Id.