STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|GLORIA JILL O’NEAL,||)|
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-10495|
|)||Parcel No. 29P230032|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Gloria Jill O’Neal (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 $130,100, with an assessed value of $24,720. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $68,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was conducted on March 12, 2021, via WebEx. Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel Monique Nketah.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 930 Hawkins Rd. in St. Louis County, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 29P230032.
The subject property consists of a two-acre lot with a historic house that was constructed by hand on a rock ledge and is surrounded by developed land. (Tr. 4:16-5:08.) Complainant purchased the subject property for $12,000 in 1968. (Tr. 5:15-30.)
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $155,900. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $130,100.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $68,000. Complainant testified in support of her opinion of value and submitted a letter and the following exhibits:
|A||One-page document created by Complainant purportedly including information about the increase in assessment of the subject property and neighboring properties.||Admitted|
|B||One-page January 14, 2020, Bi-State Utilities Co. $60,631 cost to install storm sewers.||Admitted|
|C||Assessment information for subject property.||Admitted|
|D||Aerial photograph of subject property and surrounding area.||Admitted|
|E||Part of James Engineering and Surveying Company, Inc. survey.||Admitted|
|F||National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet.||Admitted|
|G||Survey map that Complainant indicated she probably received at a hearing with note.||Admitted|
|H||Survey map of subject property with notes.||Admitted|
|I||Photographs of the subject property with notes.||Admitted|
|J||Photographs of the subject property with notes.||Admitted|
|K||Photographs of the subject property with notes.||Admitted|
|L||Purported Hawkins Estates survey.||Admitted|
|M||Portion of document indicating that a “no disturb zone” is established for the benefit of Complainant.||Admitted|
|N||Page including photograph of the subject property and information about the architect and site designer.||Admitted|
|O||November 21, 2006, resolution of St. Louis County Historic Buildings Commission designating the subject property as a St. Louis County landmark.||Admitted|
|P||Article from preservationresearch.com indicating that the subject property was placed in the National Register of Historic Places.||Admitted|
|Q||July 8, 2010, Certificate from State of Missouri, Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office, recognizing that the subject property has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.||Admitted|
|R||January 4, 1993, thank you letter to Complainant, design consultant.||Admitted|
Respondent objected to all of the exhibits. The objections were overruled, and Exhibits A through R were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate.
Complainant indicated that she determined a $68,000 proposed TVM by averaging a $69,000 value and a $67,000 value. To determine one of these values, Complainant subtracted the needed repairs from the assessor’s figure. (Tr. 5:28-6:30.) To determine the other value, Complainant testified that she subtracted the cost of a sewer connection. (Tr. 5:28-6:30.) Complainant argues that the subject property cannot be developed because the only access is from Hawkins Road and development is prevented by the dimensions and terrain of the subject property. She further contends that St. Louis County lacks comparable properties because the subject property is unique.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, the October 4, 2019, findings and notice of decision of the BOE. Complainant did not object to the exhibit, and Exhibit 1 was received into evidence.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $130,100, with an assessed value of $24,720.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous. Although Complainant contends that necessary repairs should be subtracted and/or the cost of installation of storm sewers should be subtracted from the value of Respondent or the BOE to determine the TVM of the subject property, the evidence does not persuasively show that either one of these approaches results in the TVM. Neither approach is a generally accepted approach to value real property. Further, no expert testimony was offered in support of either one of these approaches. To the extent that Complainant argues that terrain, dimensions, and limited access to the subject property show overvaluation, Complainant’s evidence does not persuasively specifically show how these issues lower the TVM of the subject property below the BOE’s $130,100 determination. Notably, Complainant’s evidence presented here was the evidence presented to the BOE, and Complainant’s evidence does not rebut the presumption of correct valuation by the BOE
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $130,100, with an assessed value of $24,720.
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 Legal@stc.mo.gov. 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.
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.
 In the Complaint for Review, Complainant’s proposed value is $67,300. However, during the evidentiary hearing, Complainant testified that her proposed value is $68,000.
 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.
 The letter purportedly includes direct quotations from appraisers about the subject property. Respondent objected to the purported quotations as hearsay, and the objection was sustained.
 Complainant’s letter proposes the subtraction of the sewer connection from the BOE’s assessed value for the land.
 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.