Janice Putnam v. Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, St. Louis County

December 3rd, 2021


Complainant, ) Appeal No.    19-11501
) Parcel No.      21K430442
v. )
Respondent. )



            Janice Putnam (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 $348,800, with an assessed value of $66,270.  Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $290,000.  Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation.  The BOE’s decision is affirmed.[1]

The evidentiary hearing was conducted on February 3, 2021, via WebEx. Complainant was represented by David M. Slaby.   Respondent was represented by counsel Monique D. Nketah.


  1. Subject Property. The subject property is located at 2339 Saint Clair in St. Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 21K430442.

The subject property consists of a .255 acre lot and a 2,355 square foot single family home. (Ex. 1 at 1.)  Exhibit 1 notes that the subject property has eight total rooms, three bedrooms, and two full bathrooms, (Ex. 1 at 6) but at least some of this information appears to be inaccurate. Testimony indicates that the subject property has three bathrooms, one that has “no wasteline” and does not function, (Tr. 14:33-15:05) and Exhibit G includes photographs of all three bathrooms, (Ex. G at 1, 2).

  1. Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $431,600. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $348,800.
  2. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts that the TVM of the subject property should be based on the valuation of Marjorie Putnam, Complainant’s daughter who has lived on the subject property and her attorney-in-fact, and two offers, Exhibits A and K. Complainant presented the testimony of Ms. Putnam in support of Complainant’s opinion of value and submitted the following exhibits:
Exhibit Description Ruling
A Special sale contract for $240,000 for the subject property dated November 8, 2020, and not signed by the seller. Admitted
B Spire hazardous appliance report for the subject property with checked boxes indicating “Tagged and meter locked” because “Fuel run will not hold pressure” dated November 6, 2019. Admitted
C Dannegger Bros. Contracting Co., Inc. $16,680 estimate to install 11 piers to stabilize the subject property’s foundation dated March 30, 2020. Admitted
D J. J. Kokesh and Son Co. $10,382 estimate to remove “deteriorated soil piping under flooring,” remove “fixtures, floor tile, and necessary wall tile,”  “replace piping, re-tile floor and wall,” and install vanity, faucet, toilet, and shower faucet on the subject property dated May 14, 2009. Admitted
E Helitech $13,782 estimate to install 10 piers for vertical movement on the subject property with an inspection date of October 7, 2014. Admitted
F Eleven photographs of cracks and damage to the walls of the subject property. Admitted
G Four photographs of portions of the kitchen and bathrooms of the subject property. Admitted
H Eight photographs related to the electric and water for the subject property. Admitted
I Eleven photographs of the foundation and drains for the subject property. Admitted
J Fourteen photographs of the exterior of the subject property. Admitted
K Special sale contract for $250,000 for the subject property dated January 28, 2021, and not signed by the seller. Admitted
L Missouri Durable Power of Attorney appointing Marjorie C. Putnam signed by Complainant. Admitted

Respondent objected to Exhibits B, C, and E. Exhibits A through L were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate.

  1. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent presented the testimony of Adam Luesse, a senior appraiser with Respondent, and submitted Exhibit 1, Mr. Luesse’s January 5, 2021,[2]  restricted appraisal report for the subject property indicating a $349,000 opinion of value as of January 1, 2019.

In Exhibit 1, Mr. Luesse utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of seven comparable properties.

  1. Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $348,800, with an assessed value of $66,270


  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. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous. Although Ms. Putnam’s testimony and Exhibits F, G, H, I, and J persuasively establish that the subject property has foundation issues, cracks, leaks, one nonfunctional bathroom, and additional issues, the evidence does not persuasively show that the BOE’s valuation failed to consider these issues. While Exhibit B is a November 6, 2019, hazardous appliance report, the evidence neither reflects the cost to remedy the issue nor the specific impact on the TVM as of January 1, 2019.  Further, although Exhibits C and E are estimates to install piers to stabilize the subject property, and Exhibit D is an estimate to repair the nonfunctional bathroom, Complainant’s evidence does not persuasively show that these condition issues were not considered by the BOE. Additionally, Exhibit D is dated May 14, 2009, over 10 years earlier than the valuation date, January 1, 2019, and Exhibit E uses an October 7, 2014, inspection date, rather than a date closer to January 1, 2019.  Similarly, the offers to buy the subject property for $240,000 on November 8, 2020, and $250,000 on January 28, 2021, Exhibits A and K, respectively, along with Ms. Putnam’s related testimony, do not persuasively rebut the presumption of correct valuation by the BOE.  Both are unsolicited offers made when the subject property was not listed for sale, and the evidence does not reflect that the amounts were negotiated between Complainant and the prospective buyers to obtain the highest price. Additionally, both offers are dated about two years older than the January 1, 2019, valuation date.


The BOE decision is affirmed.  The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, $348,800, with an assessed value of $66,270.[3]

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.

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 December 3, 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 December 3, 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] Mr. Luesse testified that “2020” was a typo and the appraisal was prepared in 2021. (Tr. 1:06:26-58.)

[3] 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.