State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.)Appeal(s) Number 07-10134 & 07-10135
PHILIP MUEHLHEAUSLER, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
AFFIRMING HEARING OFFICER DECISION
UPON APPLICATION FOR REVIEW
On June 5, 2008, Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan entered her Decision and Order (Decision) affirming the assessments by the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
Complainant timely filed his Application for Review of the Decision.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Standard Upon Review
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).
The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as she may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances.The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part.St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992);Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).
The Commission will not lightly interfere with the Hearing Officer’s Decision and substitute its judgment on the credibility of witnesses and weight to be given the evidence for that of the Hearing Officer as the trier of fact.Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Lowe v. Lombardi, 957 S.W.2d 808 (Mo. App. W.D. 1997); Forms World, Inc. v. Labor and Industrial Relations Com’n, 935 S.W.2d 680 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996); Evangelical Retirement Homes v. STC, 669 S.W.2d 548 (Mo. 1984); Pulitzer Pub. Co. v. Labor and Indus. Relations Commission, 596 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. 1980); St. Louis County v. STC, 562 S.W.2d 334 (Mo. 1978); St. Louis County v. STC, 406 S.W.2d 644 (Mo. 1966).
A review of the record in the present appeal provides support for the determinations made by the Hearing Officer.There is competent and substantial evidence to establish a sufficient foundation for the Decision of the Hearing Officer.A reasonable mind could have conscientiously reached the same result based on a review of the entire record. The Commission finds no basis to support a determination that the Hearing Officer acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner or abused his discretion as the trier of fact and concluder of law in this appeal.Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888 (Mo. 1978); Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Holt v. Clarke, 965 S.W.2d 241 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998); Smith v. Morton, 890 S.W.2d403 (Mo. App. E.D. 1995); Phelps v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer Dist., 598 S.W.2d 163 (Mo. App. E.D. 1980).
Complainant’s application for review consisted of challenges to the sufficiency of the appraisal presented by Respondent.Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true value in money for the subject properties.The failure of Complainant to meet his burden of proof requires that the Board value be affirmed.
The Hearing Officer did not err in her determinations as challenged by Complainant.
The Commission upon review of the record and Decision in this appeal, finds no grounds upon which the Decision of the Hearing Officer should be reversed or modified.Accordingly, the Decision is affirmed.
Judicial review of this Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140, RSMo within thirty days of the date of the mailing of this Order.
The Collector of St. Louis County shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending an Order from the Commission as to whether a Petition for Judicial Review of the Order has been filed.
SO ORDERED August 12, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Bruce E. Davis, Chairman
Jennifer Tidwell, Commissioner
Charles Nordwald, Commissioner
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessments made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Hearing Officer finds presumptions of correct assessment not rebutted. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $136,600 or $68,300 per parcel, residential (assessed value of $25,940 or $12,970 per parcel).
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Associate County Counselor, Paula J. Lemerman.
Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
The Commission takes these appeals to determine the true value in money for the subject properties on January 1, 2007.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject properties.The property is a two-story brick multi-family structure located on 5,000 square foot lot.The County originally listed the structure as one 8 family apartment unit however the property was divided into two parcels and one unit was combined and the property now has 7 units.The parties agreed prior to the hearing that the cases should be heard together since the property would sold as a single unit and the determined valuation should be divided between the parcels.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $68,300 per parcel, assessed value of $12,970, as residential property.The Board of Equalization sustained the valuation. Complainant proposed a value of $40,000 per parcel, assessed value of $7,600.A hearing was conducted on May 29, 2008, at theSt. LouisCountyGovernmentCenter,Clayton,Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Complainant testified on his own behalf and provided a packet of documents.The documents include:
· A cover letter for documents to the St .LouisCountyAssessor’s Office; and
· An income approach;
· Financial reports for the subject properties; and
· Two MLS documents for two multifamily units.
The Complainant testified the value of his property (both parcels) is $70,000.He also testified that the value of the properties is $10,000 since that is what he believes his income is per year from the properties.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Al Lincoln, Missouri State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser. The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of the subject property.The Appraisal Report (Exhibit 1) of Mr. Lincoln was received into evidence.Mr. Lincoln arrived at an opinion of value for the subject properties of $202,000 after developing a cost and sales comparison approach to value and relying primarily on the cost approach.The appraiser testified that he did not develop an income approach as he lacked sufficient information since the Complainant only provided one year of income and expense information.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over these appeals is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject properties are located at7549 St. Charles Rock Road,Greendale,Missouri.The properties are identified by parcel numbers 15J310533 and 15J310522.The property consists of a 5,000 square foot lot improved by a two-story, brick, multi-family structure.The property has seven units for a total of4,800 square foot gross living area.The structure was built in 1957.
3.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2008.
4.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 as of January 1, 2007, to be $80,000 or $40,000 per parcel number.
5.Respondent’s appraisal constituted clear and convincing and cogent evidence to affirm the Assessor and Boards’ value.It was accepted only to sustain the original assessment made by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for the purpose of raising the assessment above that value.
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.Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, RSMo.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.Section 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof 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).
The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.Snider, Hermel & Cupples Hesse, supra.As is discussed below, Complainants failed to meet the required standard to rebut the presumption of correct assessment.
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).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 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.
2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
6.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; Exhibit 1.
Methods of Valuation
Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra;Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975).Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).
Respondent’s Burden of Proof
The Respondent has imposed upon him by the provisions of Section 137.115.1, RSMo, the burden of proof to present clear, convincing and cogent evidence to sustain a valuation on residential property which is made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There is a presumption in this appeal that the original valuation, which was sustained by the Board of Equalization, was made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There was no evidence to rebut the presumption, therefore, in order to sustain the valuation of the subject property at $136,600 or $68,300 per parcel, appraised value, Respondent’s evidence must come within the guidelines established by the legislature and must clearly and convincingly persuade the Hearing Officer as to the value sought to be sustained.
The statutory guidelines for evidence to meet the standard of clear, convincing and cogent include the following:
(1)The findings of the assessor based on an appraisal of the property by generally accepted appraisal techniques; and
(2) The purchase prices from sales of at least three comparable properties and the address or location thereof. Section 137.115.1(1) & (2).
Clear, cogent and convincing evidence is that evidence which clearly convinces the trier of fact of the affirmative proposition to be proved.It does not mean that there may not be contrary evidence.Grissum v. Reesman, 505 S.W.2d 81, 85, 86 (Mo. Div. 2, 1974).The quality of proof, to be clear and convincing must be more than a mere preponderance but does not require beyond a reasonable doubt.30 AmJur2d. 345-346, Evidence section 1167.“For evidence to be clear and convincing, it must instantly tilt the scales in the affirmative when weighed against the evidence in opposition and the fact finder’s mind is left with an abiding conviction that the evidence is true.”Matter of O’Brien, 600 S.W.2d 695, 697 (Mo. App. 1980).
The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value of the subject property. The properties were located within 2.03 miles of the subject.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007, in a range from March, 2005 to October, 2007.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, number of units, and other amenities of comparability.Using the sales comparison approach the appraiser determined a value of $175,000 or $87,500 per parcel.
The appraiser also developed a cost approach.The appraiser determined the land value was $11,200 and the depreciated value of all the improvements was $191,398, for a total value of $202,600 or $101,300 per parcel.The appraiser did determine the value based upon the property being brick veneer; the property is an all brick structure which may affect the final value as determined by the cost approach.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Louis County 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.Therefore, Exhibit 1 was received only to support the value of $68,300 per parcel and not to increase the value to $101,300.
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainants 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, 2007.Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897. 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).Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.See, Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
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, — S.W.3d —-, 2008 WL 820938 (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.
In this instance, the Complainant proposed a value of $70,000 for the property. The Complainant testified that he developed an income approach and a sales comparison approach.The owner may not support an opinion of value by reference to comparable sales unless the owner qualifies as an expert.State ex rel. Missouri Hwy. and Tr. Comm’n v. McDonald’s Corp., 872 S.W.2d 108, 113 (Mo. App. E.D. 1994); State ex rel. Missouri Hwy. and Tr. Comm’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990).The Complainant does not qualify as an expert in appraisal.The Complainant submitted two MLS reports on two multifamily dwellings.One comparable property was a four family unit, over 100 years of age, located in a different area.It sold in May 2006 for $39,500.The other comparable is an 86 year old building, 2 family unit, located in a different area.It sold in July 2006 for $24,500.
The Complainant also attempted to develop an income approach.He based his approach on one year’s income and expenses.He included improper items in his expenses including property taxes and the total cell phone and telephone expenses from his management of all of his properties.The Hearing Officer took the limited information provided by the Complainant and developed an income approach and determined a value of $138,350 or $69,175 which would support the valuation of the Assessor of $68,300.
Complainant’s opinion of value is not based upon proper elements or a proper foundation.It has no probative weight in arriving at a determination of fair market value.The burden of proof on Complainant has not been met.The presumption of correct assessment by the Board has not been rebutted.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization forSt. LouisCountyfor the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $25,940 or $12,970 per parcel.
Complainants may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision.The application shall contain specific grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.Section 138.432, RSMo 2000. An Application for Review must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri,P.O. Box 146,Jefferson City,MO65102-0146, and a copy of said response must be sent to the Attorney for Respondent, Assessor and Collector at the addresses listed below in the certificate of service.
If an application for review of this decision is made to the Commission, the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission and an order to the Collector to release and disburse the impounded taxes.§139.031.3, RSMo.If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Louis County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes to the appropriate taxing jurisdictions, unless previously done under court order pursuant to section 139.031 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 5, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI